Reading Blue Coat School

Reading, United Kingdom

Location: Reading, United Kingdom
Type: Mainstream School
Phase: Secondary with sixth form
Funding status: Independent
Gender: Mixed
Age range: 11 - 18 years

About Reading Blue Coat School


Reading Blue Coat (RBCS) is a leading independent day school with 760 pupils. Boys aged 11 – 18 and girls aged 16 - 18. The School was founded in 1646 by Richard Aldworth, a merchant of The Skinners’ Company and a Governor of Christ’s Hospital. The School was established near St Mary’s Minster Church in Reading and was originally known by its historic name of Aldworth’s Hospital. 

In 1947, Reading Blue Coat moved to the magnificent 46 acre estate of Holme Park in the Berkshire Thames side village of Sonning, four miles east of Reading, where it remains today. The ethos of the School derives from its Christian foundation and traditions, fostering care and consideration within the community. The School aims to provide a stimulating and friendly atmosphere in which each pupil can realise his or her full intellectual, physical and creative potential. Pupils are encouraged to be self-reliant and adaptable, and the School intends that they will learn the basis of good citizenship, founded on honesty, fairness and understanding of the needs of others. The curriculum provides a balanced blend of academic and non-academic activities that combine to meet these objectives.

The School employs in excess of 170 salaried staff, of whom about 50% are academic staff.


The School enjoys excellent facilities and continues to invest in the site.

Key developments over the past five years include;

  • the Richard Aldworth Building, a 25-classroom block that provides first-class teaching facilities for a number of major departments including English, Mathematics, Modern Languages, Classics, Geography, Art and a common room for Middle School pupils with views over the sports pitches;
  • the Sixth Form Centre;
  • a Psychology and Geology Centre;
  • a riverside boathouse;
  • an IT Centre;
  • a Design & Technology Centre;
  • a Drama Studio;
  • and various other amenities have been completed.

The new buildings add to an already impressive list of facilities including the Sports Complex, the Science Centre, Reception and the Messer Building. 

The Governors have further ambitions for the School and we have planning permission for the next phase in our development which will include:

  • a new Grounds, Maintenance and Activities Centre;
  • a new Performing Arts Centre.


The academic curriculum at Reading Blue Coat is based on the principle that all pupils should experience a broad and balanced range of basic subjects and skills. From Year 9 onwards, this range is gradually modified, by elements of choice, enabling both the interests and aptitudes of individual pupils to be reflected. Most lessons are taught initially in classes of mixed ability, although setting occurs in Mathematics and French in Year 7, Languages in Year 8 and Science in Year 10. 

Geology is also a thriving subject, with a new Geology and Psychology Centre supporting the increased levels of interest.

In Year 11, all pupils take qualifications in English, Maths and Science (all IGCSE) and a Modern Foreign Language. They also take three GCSEs from a broad range of eleven subjects. All pupils take a GCSE in Religious Studies in Year 10.

In the Sixth Form pupils can choose from a range of 24 subjects, including subjects most will not have studied before, such as Economics, Government and Politics and Psychology. Enrichment opportunities in the Sixth Form include the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), visiting speakers and the School’s own UP (university preparation) programme. Reading Blue Coat School always seeks to stretch and challenge pupils and the School’s Learning Support Department ensure that pupils with specific learning needs are supported effectively.

The School’s Learning Research Group ensures a sustained focus on developing teachers and pedagogical enrichment. 2018 academic results were impressive; the A Level results were excellent with 75% achieving A*-B and at GCSE the School has achieved 90% A*- B six years running. 

Virtually all Year 13 leavers proceed to degree courses at universities of which approximately 70% go to the Russell Group of universities. Each year a number our students attain places at Oxbridge.


Pastoral care focused on the individual is at the heart of the School. Reading Blue Coat’s pastoral structure is based around the tutorial system within the framework of four houses: Aldworth, Hall, Malthus and Rich. All pupils are part of a tutor group that is overseen by a member of staff who is responsible for their well-being and the development of their character and intellectual curiosity. The School prides itself on mutual respect, tolerance and courtesy, and all activities seek to strengthen these values. The house system enables pupils to take part in activities that foster the development of these ideals through music, sport, drama and public speaking.


Reading Blue Coat has an enviable reputation both locally and nationally for the high quality of its sporting teams. Sport plays a key role in developing every pupil’s potential – physical fitness and skill, teamwork and learning how to win and lose. Sports are coached to a very high level while providing for, and encouraging, those for whom participation rather than excellence is important. Major sports are rowing, rugby, netball, football, cricket, tennis and athletics. Other sports include golf, squash, cross country, climbing, weight training, touch rugby, shooting and archery.


Reading Blue Coat has a reputation for drama performances of the highest quality, with an extensive programme of performances throughout the year. The main expressions of artistic undertakings at Reading Blue Coat are music, drama, public speaking and painting. Pupils’ endeavours in the arts are highly successful and widely acclaimed, including internationally. Music is at the heart of the School; all boys are auditioned for the choir and many learn a musical instrument. The breadth and depth of musical and dramatic talent at the School is evident in the wide range of plays, concerts, “Swing into Summertime” – an outdoor festival of the arts, and other eclectic events that take place across the year.


Co-curricular activities are designed to enable pupils to develop practical and social skills such as leadership, enterprise and communication. As part of the extensive co-curricular programme, Reading Blue Coat offers a number of exciting options from which pupils can choose for their weekly activities session. Activities offered include Combined Cadet Force (all services), Duke of Edinburgh, Young Enterprise, Film Club, Archery, Creative Writing and Journalism.


Reading Blue Coat pupils are encouraged to be aware of their place in the wider world and to show consideration for all those with whom they come into contact. These principles are based on the ideas handed down by our founder Richard Aldworth. Today the School has strong links with the wider community and pupils have many opportunities to engage with the world beyond the School gates. The Sports Leaders programme is particularly popular, as it prepares Sixth Formers to go out into primary schools in Sonning, Caversham and Maidenhead to coach a number of sports. Reading Blue Coat’s Primary Schools Placement programme also gives pupils the opportunity to assist with tuition in Maths, English and languages in local primary schools and A Level Philosophy pupils have delivered an introduction to Philosophy in a nearby school. Further afield, the School has an established partnership with a school in Ghana.

Further information is available on the School’s website at

See also The Good Schools Guide

and Muddy Stilettos Schools Review Guide

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Address: Holme Park, Sonning-on-Thames, Reading, Berkshire, RG4 6SU, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 118 9441005