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The Abbey School, Reading

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Abbey School
Kendrick Road

, ,

Coordinates51°26′54″N 0°57′47″W / 51.448333°N 0.963056°W / 51.448333; -0.963056
TypeIndependent day school
Department for Education URN110165 Tables
Chair of GovernorsLiz Harrison [1]
HeadMr Will le Fleming
Age3 to 18
Enrolment1,006 (2020)[2]

The Abbey School, is an independent selective day school for girls, in Reading, Berkshire, England.[3] The Abbey School provides education for girls aged 3 to 18 years. The school is based in the centre of Reading, on Kendrick Road. The current Head is Mr Will le Fleming. The school currently has just over 1000 students throughout the school, from Junior to Sixth Form.[4] The school became an International Baccalaureate World School in 2008. In 2020, the IB cohort averaged 39.6 points, compared to the global average of 30.

Founded in 1887,[5] the school moved to its present site in 1905[5] under the leadership of headmistress Helen Musson.

Notable alumnæ include the novelist and social activist Brigid Brophy, the novelist Elizabeth Taylor[6] the educationalist Baroness Brigstocke,[7] and the historian Lucy Worsley. Around one hundred years before the school was founded in 1887, the novelist Jane Austen briefly attended Reading Ladies' Boarding School within the Abbey Gateway,[8][9][10] which is commemorated by, and incorporated into, the Abbey School's crest.


The school was founded in 1887, named Reading High School, replacing the privately owned Blenheim House Ladies' School. It was located at London Road (in the building which became the Gladstone Club). The Church Schools Company, instrumental in founding the school, felt that Reading, with its growing population reaching 60,000, was in need of a new school. The school aimed to provide high quality education with a Christian ethos at an affordable price. When founded, the school had an enrolment of 40 girls, which steadily increased to 120 by 1902, when Miss Helen Musson MA, the new headmistress, was appointed.[5]

In 1905, the school moved to its current Kendrick Road site.[11] On 16 March 1905 William Methuen Gordon Ducat, the Archdeacon of Berkshire, laid the foundation stone of the school, which featured the inscription, "In aedificationem corporis Christi". This motto, taken from Ephesians IV:12, can still be seen on the school's crest. The new site was a vast improvement on the old site: there were six classrooms, a hall and space for playing fields.[5]

The school changed its name to The Abbey School in 1913,[11] after parting from the Church Schools' Company. The name was chosen to commemorate a former Reading school dating from 1835, which was based in the Abbey Gateway. A previous school in the Abbey Gateway operating in the 18th-century, named Reading Ladies’ Boarding School, included Jane Austen among its pupils.[8][9][10] The Abbey is now a day school, after ceasing to accept boarding pupils in 1946, and was a direct grant (C. of E.) grammar school in the 1950s .[5] The headmistress is Mrs Rachel Dent.

Academic performance

The school has established a reputation for academic excellence. According to the Good Schools Guide, the school typically achieves 88 per cent A/B, [and] 97 per cent A/C at A Level, "Sciences [are] quite strong" and "99 per cent [of students go] into higher education."[12]

Senior school

Roughly 45% of entrants in the Upper Third (year 7) come from the Junior School. Also, many students from other schools all around Berkshire and beyond come here.[13]


On entering the school, every girl is put into a house: Carrington, Ducat, Kensington or Paget. Houses are named after people who have been important to the school, for example founding it. In these houses, girls can earn points by doing well. House competitions include reading and music, The Music Competition (for solo players), The Baroness Brigstocke Memorial Public Speaking Competition (plus the Young Brigstocke for younger students), House sports competitions (such as swimming, rounders and hockey) and Sports Day. At the end of each term, and each year, a cup is awarded to the house with the most points. They also do House music and drama.

Junior School and Early Years Centre

The Junior School is at Kensington House, a building 400 metres away from the senior school, along with Somerleaze House, a building for its year 5 and 6 pupils. Also situated here is the Early Years Centre, a unit opened in 2003 for. KnellHouse Nursery was opened by alumna Sally Taylor, BBC television presenter. In 2014, in response to a letter from a pupil, Home Secretary Theresa May opened what is now known as the Abbey Gardens for the Abbey's Reception and Year 1 pupils.


As an independent school, Ofsted do not perform inspections of the school.[14][15] However, Ofsted have inspected the Early Years Centre.[16] The independent schools Inspectorate performed an inspection on the whole school in 2002.[17] The Good Schools Guide produced a report on the Abbey in 2005.[13][18]

ISI 2002

The inspection took place in October 2002 and produced, on the whole, a positive report. The report praised the "good quality" teaching and "high quality pastoral care", with "dedicated" and "committed" teachers. It noted the "high achievement" in GCSE and A level exams and the "rich programme" of extra curricular activities. In the junior school, the accommodation and resources were praised.

There was criticism of the school's lack of management system and development plan. Inconsistency in assessment of pupils work was noted. The accommodation for year 6 was "poorly appointed" and there were "some teaching weaknesses" in this year group.[citation needed]

Ofsted Early Years Report 2004

Ofsted inspected the Early Years Centre only, that is, from ages 3 to 5. Judgments of the children's development were all classified as "very good" – the highest category attainable. "Very good progress" had been made since the 2002 ISI report and there were no significant weaknesses to report.

Staff promote good behaviour and show good understanding of individual needs with excellent opportunities for parental involvement.

The report can be accessed here

Good Schools Guide 2005

This review noted the academic excellence of the school as well as other outstanding details. The conclusive summary reads:

It's an anxious business being and staying this good. League table place matters because parents obsess about it (they deny it, of course, and blame politicians). Defection to free sixth form colls post-GCSE has stimulated both a more young-adult-friendly sixth form regime and greater efforts in all areas. This is a school which does the biz examwise, no doubt, but also tries with sincerity and enlightenment of purpose, especially under this humane head, to turn out girls who are in touch with everything they can do well and who will go on to be good citizens. It was founded in 1887


Notable former pupils

See also


  1. ^ The Abbey School for Girls Reading
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The Abbey School". Retrieved 4 September 2006. title=ISI Inspection October 2002| url= | pages = 6, section 3.1| accessdate=4 September 2006 }}
  4. ^ The Abbey School. Ethos Retrieved 4 September 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e Laverack, Barbara; Barbara Sheldon. A History of The Abbey School, Reading 1887 – 2001. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
  6. ^ a b "Elizabeth Taylor's relentless Englishness". The Times. 7 June 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Lady Brigstocke". The Daily Telegraph. 6 May 2004.
  8. ^ a b Reading Museum's local information on Jane Austen's school
  9. ^ a b Dr Tony Corley. "Jane Austen's Schooldays 1785-6". Archived from the original on 15 October 2006. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
  10. ^ a b JASA. "Jane Austen biography". Retrieved 4 September 2006.
  11. ^ a b The Abbey School. "2005 Site Centenary Celebration and ASROGA Reunion". Retrieved 4 September 2006.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b The Good Schools Guide. "Guide to The Abbey School, Reading". Retrieved 5 September 2006.
  14. ^ Ofsted. "Reports for the Abbey School, Reading". Archived from the original on 5 November 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2006.
  15. ^ Ofsted. "Why is there no report for the independent school I am interested in?". Retrieved 5 September 2006.
  16. ^ Ofsted. "Nursery Inspection Report". Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2006.
  17. ^ Independent Schools Inspectorate. "Inspection Report on the Abbey School, Reading" (PDF). Retrieved 5 September 2006.
  18. ^ The Good Schools Guide. "Guide to The Abbey Junior School". Retrieved 5 September 2006.
  19. ^ "Baird, Joyce Elizabeth Leslie", Who Was Who
  20. ^ The Abbey School Archive
  21. ^ Hunt-Grubbe, Charlotte (14 September 2008). "The new women wildlife presenters". The Times. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  22. ^ The Abbey School. "Abbey Old Girls". Archived from the original on 9 October 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2006.

External links

This page was last edited on 25 February 2021, at 10:24
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