Ranelagh School

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Ranelagh School
Ranelagh School, Bracknell - geograph.org.uk - 125669.jpg
Motto Coelitus Mihi Vires (My Strength is from Heaven)
Established 1709
Type Secondary academy
Religion Church of England
Headteacher Mrs Beverley Stevens
Founder Earl of Ranelagh, Richard Jones
Location Ranelagh Drive
RG12 9DA
England, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51°24′41″N 0°44′50″W / 51.4114°N 0.7473°W / 51.4114; -0.7473
DfE number 867/4603
DfE URN 137267 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Staff 126
Students 920
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Barnet, Braybrooke, Cleave, Waterson, Winrow
Colours Blue, Yellow, Green, Red and Lilac (Respectively)
Website ranelagh.bracknell-forest.sch.uk

Ranelagh School is a Church of England day school in Berkshire close to the centre of Bracknell. Celebrating its 300th birthday in 2009 the school was founded by Lord Ranelagh, whose portrait resides in the school library.


Attendance is limited to Church of England children whose parents attend church at least 12 months prior to admission. It is one of many schools criticised in the UK and was subject to former Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls' investigation into UK schools on this basis[1]


Cranbourne Hall was a Queen Anne style mansion built in 1709 just off Drift Road, Winkfield, and which was demolished in 2008. The Earl's residence was Cranbourne Lodge of which only Cranbourne Tower is remaining. Cranbourne (sometimes Cranborne), which was a part of Winkfield parish, is about two miles from Winkfield itself, and lies mainly on Drift Road and North Road.

Earl of Ranelagh[edit]

1st Earl of Ranelagh

It was home to one of the oldest schools in Berkshire, established by the 1st Earl of Ranelagh, Richard Jones, for 20 boys and 20 girls. The first master was William Waterson who ran the school for 50 years, he was also the vicar of Winkfield. Earl Ranelagh was a devout Christian, he required that the master was in holy orders, and insisted the Catechism was taught every Wednesday and Friday. The boys were to learn reading writing and arithmetick (sic), and the girls reading, writing, spinning, knitting and sewing. A set of clothes rather like the more well-known Blue Coat School was provided for the children and so it became sometimes known as the Green School. Every Whit Monday the children paraded outside the lychgate of Winkfield Church to be given new uniforms. The school was then run by John Boyce from 1759-72 and later his son George from 1772-1824.

In 1709 the hours of the school were in summer 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., and winter 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Attendance was often poor, and many pupils were expelled for non attendance, in 1769 15% were expelled for this reason. Earlier there were no school holidays, in 1820 there were four weeks in August, one week at Christmas and Easter, and a week at Whitsun was added in 1824.

The front door opens into a full-height hall, originally a chapel, which has stained glass windows at the far end. The master’s rooms were at the back with rooms in each wing to house the children. In the 1830s the single storey wings were made double storey. By 1880 the school had reached a capacity of 100 and Cranbourne Hall was sold. The school expanded to a site in Lovel Road and became known as Cranbourne Ranelagh School.


In 1908 some of the proceeds from the sale of the Hall were used to establish a grammar school in Bracknell. This became the highly regarded Ranelagh Church of England School. Cranbourne Hall was demolished in 2008.

Ranelagh opened as a secondary school and pupil-teacher centre on its present site in Bracknell in 1908. The school was partly funded by the Ranelagh Foundation, a charitable trust, which had been involved in education in the ancient parish of Winkfield since the founding of the original school in 1709. When the school opened in Bracknell, there were four full time teachers including the first headmaster, Ernest Cleave.

By the outbreak of World War II the number on roll had risen to one hundred and there were then eight full time teachers including the second headmaster, James Bury. An additional playing field had been purchased in Larges Lane. During the war there were, at one time, two schools sharing the use of the buildings.

The coming of the New Town and changes in national educational policy led to a major expansion of the school between 1953 and 1981 under the headships of Donovan Martin and Richard Allen.

Grammar school[edit]

The school became a Church of England voluntary aided grammar school following the Education Act 1944. Extensions were made to the buildings between 1955-64, and between 1979-81.


The school became an academy in August 2011. It was awarded Beacon School Status and is a Specialist College in Maths, Visual Arts and Business & Enterprise. In February 2006, the school received an outstanding OFSTED report and has been included in HMCI Annual Report (for the second time) as one of the most successful schools in the country.[2] Ranelagh received its fourth Outstanding Ofsted report in 2015 under the leadership of Mrs Beverley Stevens.

Notable former pupils[edit]

In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), lyrics by Peter Sinfield

Ranelagh Grammar School[edit]


  1. ^ Faith schools enquiry praised.
  2. ^ Ranelagh Information PDF.
  3. ^ Children's Society
  4. ^ William Birch, 1925-2009, Obituary, The Times Higher Education, 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2012-05-06.

External links[edit]