Reddam House, Wokingham
Muddy says: Reddam House in Wokingham has a progressive curriculum, wow facilities and a clutch of brilliant results. Impressed.
REDDAM HOUSE BERKSHIRE SCHOOL WOKINGHAM
Reddam House is a co-ed day and boarding school for ages 3 month to 18 years – perfectly positioned for anyone living in Wokingham, Reading and the surrounding areas, but if you don’t mind whizzing along the M4, it would suit anyone in Berkshire and beyond. Superb train links to and from London, Birmingham and the south. And with Heathrow less than 30 minutes away, it’s also has global appeal.
Co-educational with a 50/50 boy/girl split with pupils this year – just about capacity, 125 littlies with 369 pupils in the main school – the school is set in 125 acres of frankly gorgeous grounds. The main building is stonking: grand, imposing, but not austere, when you go inside your jaw will drop at the ornate wood panelling, elegant fireplaces and the rare round radiator is a talking point . But following a huge refurbishment, it’s the classrooms that really sing – light, bright contemporary spaces.
If you like your schools with a feeling of informality and intimacy, you’re in the right place. There’s a harmonious blend of old and new, which is rather poetic given that Reddam House has only been open for 2 years, having taken over the site of the historic boys’ boarding school Bearwood College (originally the family home of The Times newspaper owner John Walter).
You’d expect any school charging nearly £17k a year to have decent sport, drama and music facilities, and Reddam House has invested heavily to ensure everything is top notch (and if it’s not up to scratch, it’s on the list to be refurbished).
It has the obligatory rolling playing fields, sports courts, a superb 350-seater Performing Arts centre, a new state-of-the art Gymnasium Centre with sprung floor (several of the students compete nationally and internationally), dance studios, a music school with dedicated practice rooms, spingly spangly Early Years play area, a shooting range, a lake for sailing in the summer months and, as luck would have it, the school neighbours the famous Bearwood Lakes Golf Course, so the kids can go there too. All that’s missing is Larry Grayson as your host, a cuddly toy, 48-picee dinner service and a food mixer.
The big headline all-lights-flashing development is a full-size astro turf and refurbishment of the tired looking 25m indoor pool. But judging by the standard of the work elsewhere – new changing rooms, science labs and classrooms – it’s all going to be swish!
Reddam House is your flexible friend (huge sigh of relief from frazzled parents). Contemporary boarding options are available from Y5 (age 9), either flexi (ad hoc and regular part time), with weekly or full available as well from Y7 (age 11) – and the boarding houses here are well above average. The communal areas in particular are cool, colourful spaces (a teen dream, quite frankly) and the dorms themselves, although simple, are homely and way above the usual white plasterboard.
In the evenings staff supervise a 2-hour prep sesh, providing tutoring that the kids really appreciate. In fact, many day students ask to tag along for supper and study, to take full advantage of the additional support. Once the work is done, there’s plenty of opportunity to kick back with extra curricular activities and planned trips to premiership football matches, Windsor Castle, Oxford Uni and Harry Potter Studios. And that barely scratches the surface.
Meet the head
Tammy Howard is Principal working with a fantastic team of school heads – Holly Leather (Early Years), Cassie Morris (Junior), James Day (Middle) and Mike Milner (Seniors). It’s not often I come across a head in the independent sector who has worked in both state and private education, but Tammy has done just that and Reddam House benefits from her broad experience. She’s a straight forward, no nonsense woman with a twinkle in her eye. Tammy is clearly eager for Reddam House to have a leading school role, at the vanguard of trying new techniques to help kids learn. CHEX (Challenge and Extension programme) is the latest initiative to challenge and stretch children’s learning in all subjects. The result? Greater depth of knowledge and understanding and a cohort of free thinkers. If you’re looking for value added learning, you’ll find it here. Just like the Team GB, it’s all about marginal gains.
Little people can start at 3 months in the Early Learning School and it’s waaaaay superior to the various nurseries I’ve used for my kids over the years. Housed in the old coaching house, a short stroll from the main building, it’s enormous, bright, with creative and messy spaces, a hall and great outdoor space. There are some nice interior design touches that follow up to Juniors to help transition, so there is sense of familiarity.
The uniform or rather the ‘multi-form’. Students can choose from a variety of items within the range. If you’re child is more comfortable in a polo shirt and fleece, then that’s what they can wear. Prefer a shirt tie? Crack on. Girls, won’t need to the roll their skirt up on the sly, the skorts are priddy short. Express yourself (within reason). The formal uniform must be worn one day per week, but by and large your 12 year old won’t feel the need for a full pre-teen fashion strop.
Wrap around care: Excellent. The school is progressive and forward thinking. In the spirit of that and entirely flexible. Kids can be dropped off from 8am for breakfast and stay for tea, or after school clubs, or even board at short notice (an extra cost). Flexi-boarding is the norm; kids can book in for as many nights as they like and weekly boarding is also offered.
Word on the ground: There is real buzz about Reddam House. Its progressive attitude, academic rigour, global outlook and endless opportunities ticks a lot of boxes for parents. They were all clicking their heels too, when The Times listed it as the 11th best co-ed prep in the country and the best indy prep in Berkshire. Oh and the school’s CHEX programme has been shortlisted for a TES award for strategic educational innovation. It definitely has a very upbeat, ‘can-do’ aura. Embracing individuality and giving the kids the physical and mental tools to run with it.
Fees: Early Learning – from £56.50 per days; Junior – £3,450-£4,245 per term; Middle – £5,600 per term; Senior – £5,600-£10,625. Reddam House also gives you the option to yearly, termly or in 10 installments – so your not living off baked beans for the rest of your life.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Well-rounded kids. The vibe is informal and friendly, but academically strong – not an easy mix to pull off. The superior sport, drama and music facilities are impressive and all children get to participate fully. Good flexible after-school care in mind is particularly helpful for busy working parents.
Not for: Parents who prefer a more ‘starchy’ approach to schooling and, although non-selective, the cycle of academic testing will not suit all children.
Dare to disagree?! Have a look for yourself at the Open Day, Friday 3 February, from 9.3oam.
Reddam House Berkshire, Bearwood Rd, Sindlesham, Wokingham RG41 5BG. Tel: 0118 974 8300