Leighton Park School
Day and boarding school
|Founders||Dame Elizabeth and George Cadbury|
|Houses||5 (4 Senior, 1 Junior)|
|Colours||Blue, Gold, Brown|
|Campus||64-acre (260,000 m2) parkland campus|
|Former Pupils||Old Leightonians|
Leighton Park School is a co-educational Quaker independent school for both day and boarding pupils in Reading in South East England. The school was founded in 1890, following the closure of Grove House School, also a Quaker establishment.
The school is based in a parkland estate just south of Reading town centre, next to the University of Reading's Whiteknights Park campus. The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. It offers both the International Baccalaureate and A Levels at sixth form and sends a high proportion of its pupils to Oxford or Cambridge.[not in citation given]
Nigel Williams has been headmaster since January 2013. He has served over 18 years at the school in a variety of roles. The previous headmaster was Alex McGrath, who had previously been the deputy headmaster of Trent College.
Leighton Park was opened in 1890 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as a public school for boys. It was founded after Grove House School, also a Quaker school, closed in 1877. Grove School had educated notable personalities such as Lord Lister, Alfred Waterhouse and Thomas Hodgkin.
Leighton Park grew from four boys in 1890 to 103 in the 1920s. By 1970 the school had 300 pupils, and in 1975 girls were admitted to the sixth form. In 1993 the school became fully coeducational. Today the school is home to 500 pupils drawn from over 20 different countries.
In 2006, Sir Steve Redgrave opened a new dining room at the school.
Traditions and routines
Leighton Park, due to its Quaker faith, has customs and traditions which differ from those in Anglican schools. These include:
- "Collect": A daily meeting similar other schools' assemblies, in which pupils gather for presentations and talks. Every collect ends with a silence lasting several minutes to reflect on the topic addressed. Unlike many school assemblies, hymns are not sung.
- "Meeting for Worship": A weekly event similar to Quaker meetings across the country. The meeting lasts about 20-25 minutes and is held in silence to reflect on thoughts and feelings, with a free forum for anyone to stand up and speak about issues on their mind.
- "Monthly Meeting": A meeting in which pupils can air grievances on any matter. It is usually chaired by the head boy and head girl while a member of staff takes the minutes. The school senior management are usually present to respond.
There are five houses at Leighton Park: four senior (School, Field, Grove and Reckitt) and one junior (Fryer). Each senior house has about 100 pupils, and the junior house has about 80 pupils. The first house established was named 'Grove', after Grove School, which Leighton Park has historical links with. The junior house, 'Fryer', houses pupils aged 11–13. All houses are mixed sex and all have facilities for day and boarding pupils.
The school has a floodlit astroturf sports pitch and 22 tennis courts along with four main sports fields. The school's provision includes athletics, cricket, rugby, hockey and netball, football, tennis and swimming. The school awards sports scholarships to talented students.
The school hosts an annual cross-country competition with a course more than 2.5km long. There is also a house 'Road Relay' race and regular inter-house sport competitions in rugby, football, athletics, hockey, tennis and swimming.
Leightonian Funto Fabunmi-Alade was English Schools Athletics sprint champion in her age group for several consecutive years. In April 2011, student Charlotte Turner qualified for the UK National County Cross-Country Championships while in Year 10.
The school recently hosted a Super Six Rugby Sevens Tournament, a spin-off of the 'Super Six' rugby XV cup competition that the school founded and takes part in with five other schools. It has won the cup on several occasions. The school also participates in the Daily Mail Cup rugby competition.
Music and drama
The current[when?] head of music is Rosemary Scales. All students have the chance to learn an instrument and the school has a recording studio. It also awards music scholarships and organizes an annual house music competition. Students can study music at GCSE and A-Level as well as music technology.
The drama department is headed by Geraint Thomas. Leighton Park's Main Hall theatre is the home of school productions. It is also often hired by local choral and drama companies. There is usually one main School production per academic year, alternating between a musical and a play.
Younger students at Leighton Park have the opportunity to perform in the "Fryer Festival" in the summer.
The school offers GCSE drama as well as A-level theatre studies.
Leighton Park was featured on the BBC Politics Show, which was hosted at the site in December 2010.
In April 2005, Quaker-based Sunday Worship was broadcast live from Leighton Park on BBC Radio 4. Heard by an estimated 1.75 million listeners, the sequence of readings, music, ministry and silence "reflected the essence of Quaker values to the wider world."
Leighton Park also featured in the press in 2005 for the introduction of a music workshop by ex-child soldier turned musician, Ben Okafor.
In popular culture
The school is mentioned in the play and film The History Boys by Alan Bennett. The headmaster mentions schools he would like to emulate regarding high pupil entry to Oxford; among them is Leighton Park — 'or is that an open prison?', he adds.
Notable old pupils include:
- Sir John Adye, former director of the GCHQ
- Sir Tony Baldry, MP
- Richard Vernon, actor
- Quentin Bell, Bloomsbury Member, Artist and writer
- Eliza Bennett, actress
- Steven Tsui, Consultant Surgeon, Clinical Director of Transplant Services at Papworth Hospital
- Michael Binyon, journalist
- Owen Bowcott, Journalist
- Sir John Birch, former ambassador
- Jim Broadbent, Oscar-winning actor
- Hugh Foot, Baron Caradon, former ambassador
- Nathan Crowley, Oscar nominated Art Director in Film Industry
- Henry Priestman, singer/songwriter (The Christians)
- Lawrence Owens, Archaeologist
- Baron Davies of Stamford, former MP, Minister and Life Peer
- Richard G Wilkinson, social epidemiologist, author and advocate.
- Leonard Doncaster, Geneticist
- Helen Cadbury, Chair of Barrow Cadbury Trust, poet, author, educator
- Jason Durr, Actor
- Po Shun Leung, artist
- Michael Foot, former Labour Party leader
- Lord Gavron, Publisher and Life Peer
- Lance Clark (retail; founder of Soul of Africa)
- Dr Robert Wilson (pioneer surgeon in New Guinea and took the Surgeon's Photograph of the Loch Ness Monster
- Robert Gillmor, Artist and ornithologist
- Sir David Lean, Oscar award-winning film director
- Owen Edwards, pioneer of Welsh TV broadcasting
- Peter Litten, Film Director
- Laura Marling, singer and Award-winning songwriter
- Nathaniel Parker, Actor
- Professor Dan Reinstein, eye surgeon
- Sir Roland Penrose, artist, historian and poet
- Crispin Aubrey, campaigner
- Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, composer and jazz pianist
- John Ryman, former Labour Party MP
- Julian Stallabrass, Art Historian, Photographer and Lecturer
- Ian Stillman, missionary
- Stuart Zender, musician
- John Mitchell (musician), musician and music producer
- "Leighton Park School, Reading – The Good School Guide". Goodschoolsguide.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- "School House and Attached Laboratories at Leighton Park School, Reading". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- "Leighton Park School – BriefHistory". Leightonpark.com. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- "Leighton Park School – Home". Leightonpark.com. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- "Leighton Park Facilities". Leighton Park. 2011-05-01. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Charlotte Turner placed 1st for Berkshire". Leighton Park. 2011-04-05. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "BBC Politics Show at Leighton Park School". Berkshire Life. 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- "Worship". Leighton Park. 2011-05-01. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "UK | England | Berkshire | Pupils meet former child soldier". BBC News. 2005-06-21. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- The Leightonian [school magazine] (pub. 1895).
- The Park [school magazine] (pub. termly).
- Old Leightonians Club. A list of names and addresses of the old boys of Leighton Park School (pub. 1945, 1957, 1973, 1990).
- Brown, S. W. Leighton Park: A history of the school (pub. 1952).
- Leighton Park School, Leighton Park: The first 100 years (pub. 1990).
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