Leighton Park School
|Leighton Park School/Reading|
Day and boarding school
|Age||11 to 18|
|Houses||4 (3 Senior, 1 Junior)|
|Colour(s)||Blue, Copper, White|
|Campus||64-acre (260,000 m2) parkland campus|
|Former Pupils||Old Leightonians|
Leighton Park School is a co-educational independent school for both day and boarding pupils in Reading in South East England. The school's ethos is closely tied to the Quaker values, having been founded as a Quaker School in 1890. The school's ethos is described as achievement with values, character and community.
The school is based in a 65-acre 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 Russell Group universities, such as Oxford, UCL or Imperial and specialist arts institutions, such as Central St Martins or Conservatoires.
Matthew Judd has been the headmaster since September 2018. UK Government Sixth Form analysis places Leighton Park as a top performing school for Sixth Form students' academic progress, including being the best performing school in Berkshire and one of eight schools in the country to have always appeared in the top 100.
The school has a holistic curriculum but is known for Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), as well as the Creative Arts, with music a long standing focus for the school.
The school won the Award for Excellence in STEAM Education 2021 and the national Community STEM Awards for secondary schools in 2017 for its iSTEM+ programme. This programme takes a creative problem-solving approach to learning and incorporates projects supported by the school's industry partners, notably Cisco, Intel, Pfizer and BION-Tec. The school offers a wide range of GCSE, A Level and IB courses to reflect these strengths, including offering both Engineering and Design and Technology at GCSE.
"Young people must be engaged and inspired to ensure we grow the next generation of scientific talent. We can only do this through close collaboration between industry and schools such as Leighton Park, that focus on excellence in STEAM.” - Rohini Beavon, Clinical Scientist Lead (Director), Pfizer Ltd
For Creative Arts, the school is a Yamaha Flagship Music Education Partner, the only school in Europe to hold this prestigious status. Over 50% of student study an instrument in the school, with 27 music teachers covering a very wide range of instruments. The school also offers dance with a new studio and a GCSE qualification available. The school has a new music and media centre, with impressive facilities to support student learning in this area.
Leighton Park has a long association with film, with the Oscar-winning film director Sir David Lean studying at the school. Today the school teaches a BTec in Digital Media Production and works closely with nearby Pinewood Studios.
Old School and attached laboratories at Leighton Park are Grade II listed buildings. Grove House was designed by notable Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed the Natural History Museum in London.
A boarding and day school, Leighton Park offers a flexible school day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the school fees. Students have six 55 minute lessons each day and can choose to come in from 7.30am and stay later to enjoy one of the 90 co-curricular options, have dinner with their friends and benefit from supervised prep time with a teacher. In Years 7-8 students can stay until 7.30pm, while in more senior years students are welcome to stay until 9.00pm.
The school runs its own admissions assessment, placing emphasis on an interview and a piece of creative writing as well as maths and English assessments. Admission to the Sixth Form is assessed by an interview, a student's GCSE results and their school report from the current institution. Students applying to the Sixth Form should hold five GCSE grades at 6–9, while students wishing to study maths at A Level or IB will need a grade 7 or above. Entry to the school is usually at Year 7, 9 or 12 - but may also be permitted in other years, subject to availability. The school has a Pre-Sixth one year GCSE programme, where international students study five GCSEs in one year.
Leighton Park offers scholarships across academic subjects, as well as sport, music, dance, drama and art. The Scholarship Majors programme offers scholarship awards of up to 25% in STEAM, Music and Ethical Enterprise.
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 House 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. The junior school became the independent Crosfields School, making Leighton Park solely a senior school. 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 around 520 pupils drawn from over 39 different countries.
In 2015, the school celebrated its 125-year anniversary.
In March 2016, the school was granted planning permission to develop the main hall and music department into the Music and Media Centre (MMC) which will enhance the facilities for teaching Music and Media at the school. The building officially opened in March 2019.
Reflecting its Quaker values, the school has an active outreach programme, supporting local community and education partners. The School won the Independent School Association Award for Outstanding Community Involvement in 2020.
Leighton Park, due to its Quaker heritage, has customs and traditions which differ from those in Anglican schools. These include:
- "Collect": A daily meeting similar to 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. These generally occur on Mondays, Fridays and alternating Wednesdays.
- "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. This occurs on Thursday mornings before lessons begin.
- "Monthly Meeting": A meeting in which pupils can air grievances on any matter. It is usually chaired by the head boy and head girl. The school senior management are usually present to respond. These occur monthly on Tuesday mornings.
- In the spirit of Quaker teachings, pupils and staff refer to each other on a first name basis in order to create a sense of equality.
There are four houses at Leighton Park: three senior (School, Field and Reckitt) and one junior (Fryer). Each senior house has around 100 pupils, and the junior house has approximately 120 pupils. The houses are integral to school with many inter-house competitions occurring throughout the year, including the annual house music competition, the Richard Coleman sports shield and the merit cup.
The first house established was the original "School House" which is now called "Old School" due to the construction of a more modern house which retains the same name, followed by 'Grove House', after Grove School, which Leighton Park has historical links with. The junior house, 'Fryer', houses pupils aged 11–13 and was refurbished in 2021 to provide specialist boarding accommodation for these younger students. Reckitt and School are the senior boarding houses, with approximately 65 girls and boys respectively. As of 2020 Grove house was formally closed with plans now to turn the historic building into a Sixth Form Study Centre.
Leighton Park's emphasis is a 'sport for all' approach, with 100% of students playing in fixtures in Years 7 and 8. The school enters the Independent School Association sports competitions, with multiple teams across a large number of sports. The school also has an Advanced Performer Programme to support students competing at County or Club level.
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's co-curricular programme extends the range of options further, to include: rock climbing, horse riding, sailing, rowing, golf, skiing, badminton and table tennis. The school awards sports scholarships to talented students.
The school hosts an annual cross-country competition with a course more than 2.5 km long. There is also a house 'Road Relay' race and regular inter-house sport competitions in rugby, football, athletics, hockey, tennis and swimming.
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.
In 2018 both Rugby and Hockey First XV's reached the final of their respective competitions, with the Hockey team winning the tournament for the second year in a row. The Rugby team was also the first school boys Rugby team in the country to allow non-binary members into the team.
Music and drama
All students at the school have the chance to learn an instrument with over 50% currently taking lessons with one of the schools 27 music teachers. The school awards music scholarships and organises multiple concerts, an annual house music competition and has multiple musical groups such as the orchestra, vocal, jazz and brass groups. Students can study music at GCSE and in the sixth form as well as music technology. The school's live lounge series shows videos of students performing.
The school has recently completed a new Music and Media Centre (MMC). The MMC has been built to support Leighton Park's status as a Yamaha Flagship Music Education Partner, the only school in Europe to have this level of partnership. The building includes a new frontage and extension on the side which enhances the facilities for teaching Music and Media and also provide a new pedestrianised landscape area around the hall. The building contains seven new practice rooms and three new specialist music classrooms; a 'live lounge' inspired by BBC Radio 1, which can be used for band rehearsals, recordings and broadcasts; a custom-built media room including a green screen, lighting, editing equipment and a surround sound cinema system. An Extended foyer will provide a new frontage to the existing main hall and create an area of light and space, which can be used for small receptions. Externally, the paved and pedestrian areas around the hall provides seating and areas of relaxation for the whole school community and visitors to enjoy.
In 2014, 19 new Yamaha pianos were delivered to the school, including a 9-foot concert grand piano and sixteen upright pianos, under Yamaha's Music Education Partner Programme.
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 appeared on the BBC One Show in 2020, featuring the school's production of PPE for health workers during the Covid-19 pandemic  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."
In November 2011 thieves stole Maverick the Harris hawk from a teachers aviary. Maverick was used "to build a more adventurous curriculum for pupils" and helped students learn physics. Pupils were left distraught after the theft as a core team of pupils had been trained to handle him.
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 asks.
Notable old pupils include:
This article's list of alumni may not follow Wikipedia's verifiability policy. (May 2019)
- Sir John Adye, former director of the GCHQ
- Crispin Aubrey, Civil Rights campaigner
- Sir Tony Baldry, former MP
- Julian Bell, poet and Bloomsbury member
- Quentin Bell, Bloomsbury member, artist and writer
- Eliza Bennett, actress
- Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, composer and jazz pianist
- Michael Binyon, journalist
- Sir John Birch, former ambassador
- Owen Bowcott, journalist
- Derek Brewer, Secretary and Chief Executive of Marylebone Cricket Club
- Jim Broadbent, Oscar winning actor
- Sir John Braithwaite, chairman of London Stock Exchange
- Basil Bunting, poet
- Helen Cadbury, chair of Barrow Cadbury Trust, poet, author, educator
- Kristian Callaghan, British pistol shooter, winner of Bronze Medal 2014 Commonwealth Games
- Professor Edward Chaney, cultural historian
- Lance Clark (retail; founder of Soul of Africa), ex-CEO of Clark's Shoes
- Nathan Crowley, Oscar-nominated art director in the film industry
- Baron Davies of Stamford, former MP, minister and life peer
- Leonard Doncaster, geneticist
- Christopher Dorling, co-founder of Dorling Kindersley
- Phil Dunster, actor, Olivier Award nominee 2016
- Jordan Gage, actor, "Bat out of Hell"
- Jason Durr, actor
- Owen Edwards, pioneer of Welsh TV broadcasting
- Prof. James Fairhead, anthropology, University of Sussex
- Hugh Foot, Baron Caradon, former ambassador
- Michael Foot, former Labour Party leader
- Robert Gillmor, artist and ornithologist
- Hugh Haughton, Professor at York University
- Tim Ingold, anthropologist and Professor at Aberdeen University
- Sir David Lean, Oscar award-winning film director
- Po Shun Leong, artist
- Peter Litten, film director
- Tom Lowenstein, poet
- David McFarland, former Professor of Animal Behaviour, Oxford University
- Laura Marling, award-winning singer songwriter
- Tom Maschler, publisher and writer; former Chairman of Cape, co-founder of The Booker Prize; founder of The Book Bus
- Peter May, cricketer, Captain of England, and later Chairman of the England cricket selectors
- Jagat Singh Mehta, Foreign Secretary India, 1970s
- John Mitchell, musician and music producer
- Nicholas Moore, poet and son of GE Moore, Cambridge Philosopher
- Sir Oscar Morland, diplomat and ambassador
- Prof. Peter Nienow, Edinburgh University, awarded Polar Medal 2017, recognition for his pioneering glaciological work in the Arctic.
- Lawrence Owens, archaeologist
- Nathaniel Parker, award-winning actor
- Patrick Parrinder, Professor of English, Reading University
- Lionel Penrose, psychiatrist, medical geneticist, paediatrician, mathematician and chess theorist, Galton professor of eugenics at University College London
- Sir Roland Penrose, artist, historian and poet
- Henry Priestman, singer/songwriter (The Christians)
- John Prizeman, Architect and leading Author on Modern design
- Prof. Mark Rainforth, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Sheffield University
- Prof. Dan Reinstein, eye surgeon
- Karel Reisz, award-winning film director
- Prof. Julian Stallabrass, art historian, photographer and lecturer, Courtauld
- Ian Stillman, missionary
- Steven Tsui, consultant surgeon, clinical director of transplant services at Papworth Hospital
- Richard Vernon, actor
- Richard G. Wilkinson, social epidemiologist, author and advocate
- Timothy Williamson, Wykeham Professor of Logic, Oxford University
- Dr Robert Wilson, pioneer surgeon in New Guinea and took the Surgeon's Photograph of the Loch Ness Monster
- Stuart Zender, musician
- Shyam Bhatia, writer, journalist
- "All schools and colleges in England - GOV.UK". Find and compare schools in England.
- "Music". Leighton Park.
- "School House and Attached Laboratories at Leighton Park School, Reading". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- "Leighton Park School Celebrates 125th Anniversary". UK Boarding Schools.
- "Congratulations to the ISA Awards 2020 winners | The Independent Schools Association". 1 March 2021.
- "Leighton Park on the One Show" – via www.youtube.com.
- "BBC Politics Show at Leighton Park School". Berkshire Life. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- "Worship". Leighton Park. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- "Thieves steal hawk from Leighton Park School in Reading". 10 November 2011 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Scientist wins royal award for work in Arctic", BBC News, 23 January 2017.
- "The media and the truth: OL journalist Shyam Bhatia inspires Sixth Form". Leighton Park. 24 January 2020.
- "Leighton Park School". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
- 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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