The City Kids Mini Guide to Education in Berkshire
Image: St John’s Beaumont
Country residence to the queen, George Clooney and the Middletons, the Royal County of Berkshire has much more to offer than castles, celebs, Royal Ascot and the Reading Festival. In 2019, 12,610 Londoners relocated to Berkshire, according to the Office for National Statistics. Commutable from London, even quicker with Crossrail arriving in 2022, Berkshire provides space, rural communities, market towns, Michelin stars, racecourses and much history. There are also excellent schools in the state and independent sector. Here’s our City Kids Mini Guide to Education and living in Berkshire.
Where to Live
You will be spoilt for choice in Berkshire. The latest UK Quality of Life Index ranked the county number six in the UK’s best places to live.
Windsor is often popular, being only half an hour by train to the capital. Its abundant history, the river Thames and schools are also a huge draw. Don’t forget Windsor Castle, with changing of the guard when the Queen’s at home, The Savill Garden and Virginia Water on the periphery. Plus across Windsor Bridge you’ll find Eton, home to Eton College.
Horse racing fans know ascot for the Royal flavour in June, but it’s also close to great golf at Sunningdale.
The largest town in Berkshire lies on the River Kennet, with plenty of riverside restaurants and attractions. Not only does it have great shopping (John Lewis, The Oracle shopping centre, a Vue cinema, it’s also a huge commercial centre, with many international businesses putting down roots in its business parks. Reading also has an ancient abbey which, although now in ruins, has a museum displaying Norman carvings.
According to a Yopa’s Happy Family Home Guide, Bracknell is the 34th most attractive place to raise a family (out of 200). It has good schools, 25 parks and low crime rates.
At the far west of the county is Newbury, home to the famous racecourse and a short hop from Downton Abbey or as it’s otherwise known, Highclere Castle. The countryside around this bustling market town is part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A day’s walking will see you experience woodlands, streams and heritage sites.
On the edge of the county is historic market town, Hungerford with its antique shops and fairs as well as independent shops and boutiques. There’s an annual Food Festival as well as Tutti Day which takes place on every second Tuesday after Easter.
Riverside towns and villages
As the Thames meanders it’s way through the county, historic market towns and villages are hubs for those seeking a rural way of life. Wargrave, Bray with its Michelin stars and great pub grub and Sonning, Pangbourne and Maidenhead all offer something slightly different. They’re all connected via some beautiful walks, bike rides and rural views.
The River Thames bisects the county so inevitably there are plenty of water-based activities to get involved with. There’s also the Kennet and Avon canal if you prefer. Legoland Windsor, Windsor Castle, Cliveden and the site where the Magna Carta was signed are just a small number of places to visit within Berkshire’s borders. Here’s a few activities to whet your appetite on a house-hunting trip.
Education in Berkshire
Top 10 rated State Schools by The Real Schools Guide in 2020.
Whiteknights Primary School, Reading
Khalsa Primary School, Slough
Willow Primary School, Slough
St Dominic Savio Catholic Primary School, Woodley
Castleview Primary School, Slough
Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, Cookham
Lowbrook Academy, Cox Green
The Godolphin Junior Academy, Slough
Woolhampton CE Primary School, Woolhampton
Iqra Slough Islamic Primary School, Slough
Kendrick School, Reading
Reading School, Reading
Upton Court Grammar School, Slough
Herschel Grammar School, Slough
St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School, Slough
The Holt School, Wokingham
Langley Grammar School, Slough
The Piggott School, Wokingham
Maiden Erlegh School, Wokingham
Newlands Girls’ School, Windsor & Maidenhead
Within Berkshire there are a number of grammar schools. The Slough consortium of schools work together with one paper for entry to four schools: Herschel, Upton Court, Langley and St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School. Registration for these schools is normally open for a six-week period between May and June the year ahead of entrance. In 2021 the 11+ registration for entry in September 2022 will open on 1stMay and close on 13th June.
Testing will take place in September with results expected mid-October 2021. For links to each school and their admissions criteria:
There are also three grammar schools in Reading: Kendrick, Reading and Reading Girls (a bi-lateral school which means it is only partially selective with approximately 25% of places offered following exams).
Berkshire is blessed with some of the most famous, and most established independent schools in the land.
Pre-prep & Prep
sjbwindsor.uk – boys 3-13yrs, day & boarding
Priest Hill, Old Windsor, Berkshire SL4 2JN
01784 432428 [email protected]
St John’s Beaumont lies within a 70-acre country estate, a stone’s throw from historic Windsor. With space for play and learning, St John’s has extensive facilities to keep the boys busy. For London parents, it’s also a world away from the big smoke, without being a mission to get there.
To find out more, read our piece on Boarding ‘Hogwarts style’.
Cheam School – co-ed 3-13yrs, day & boarding
Headley, Newbury, RG19 8LD
01635 268 242
The Marist School – girls 3-18yrs, day
Kings Road, Sunninghill, Ascot SL5 7PS
Bradfield College – co-ed 13-18yrs, day & boarding
Bradfield, Reading RG7 6AU
0118 964 4500
Downe House – girls 11-18yrs, day & boarding
Cold Ash, Thatcham, RG18 9JJ
Leighton Park – co-ed 11-18yrs, day & boarding
Shinfield Road, Berkshire, RG2 7DE
0118 987 9600
The Marist School
(See Prep above for details)
St George’s School – girls 11-18yrs, day & boarding
Wells Ln, Ascot SL5 7DZ
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