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RGS Guildford and Reading Grammar

(37 Posts)
Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 10:46:11

I am trying to distinguish the appreciable differences between these two ...i know there is an older thread from last year and I've looked through it but want to refresh the opinions visits were brief and from those and websites as far as I can glean:

RGS Guildford (from 11 or 13)

hear it's like a very good state grammar but private
15k a year fees
25% Oxbridge success
Very strong in maths and sciences - big plus
Sporty but no green fields on actual premises (a downside) - facilities less impressive than other indies at least onsite (not sure if redevelopment program is also affecting facilities from a noise standpoint?) and seems more cramped than Reading Boys
Pain to get to if DS has to stay late, otherwise he can take the train but less local so probably less likely to socialize with friends outside of school

Reading Grammar (from 11)

absolutely free
16% Oxbridge (not sure what subjects though - can't see from website)
not sure how sporty or all rounded it is - very limited info on website
nice green space on premises
I did wonder what they did if much after school re clubs etc.
a bit more local so more likely to have local friends from school

DS would like to have a decent shot at Oxbridge, and RGS look like they haver a nice number getting into Cambridge for Maths and Natural Sciences which is a BIG draw though but saving of fees at Reading boys would pay for some lovely summer science or activity camps overseas which is also something to think about.

Anyone else with the same quandary between good grammar and good indy who chose one way or the other ? Be interested in insight into how all rounded a boy can be at either school and what is relative mix of intake of state to private school boys.

Biggest question though I am asking myself, is the difference between the two appreciable enough to be worth 105k (more by the time he goes there) which is what it would cost taking into account another 7 years private school fees. I can't help thinking that that could be a nice deposit on a flat for DS in a few years time.

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 11:14:25

I also meant to ask do either school cull at 6th form and then highly select at RG entrance figures.....not concerned about being culled, but interested though if that might impact of published success percentages and whether that is a good way to compare them

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 29-Oct-13 11:24:39

Are you applying this year or next?

I know nothing about RGS, but yes, I would say that at Reading they are very into their sport - matches most Saturdays in term time if you are in a team. DS did 4 hours a week of PE and Games in y7, now in Y8 is doing swimming, football, badminton and can't remember the something else this term. So lots of opportunity to find something you like. They also have clubs, e.g. badminton club, triathlon club - not sure whether after school or at lunch. There's a playing field up the road, as well as at the front of the school, and they also use Palmer Park stadium and some university facilities.

Well rounded - music is taken very seriously, drama is pretty popular. So far ds hasn't done any D&T which I'm a bit hmm about. Again, various clubs. Everyone does Latin, Greek, French, and chooses between Spanish and German. What other sorts of things were you thinking of?

Have no idea where the other boys went to school, but they seem to be a good mixture. Hth.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 29-Oct-13 11:26:03

x-posted - afaik there is no cull at Reading. I know at least one boy who repeated y12 there.

mummytime Tue 29-Oct-13 11:40:51

Where do you live? I would think that would be the biggest criteria.

RGS is a brilliant school, but if I lived in central Reading I wouldn't even consider it.

Have you looked at both schools? RGS's main sports grounds are very good, although a couple of miles away. But boys also do cross country running from school up to the downs (and sometimes even across to the sports grounds), they also use Stoke Park and other local facilities.

If you are within the distance criteria of Reading, then you would have a long way to go to Reading (although I know boys who travel further). Are there any other schools more local to you?

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 11:50:09

Good to hear that Atia....DS is at prep school and does lots of after school and extracurriculars hence the questions...good to hear more about the activities esp. drama and music and the classics ... the Reading website really gives little info even under the boarders section on sports etc. and on the tour both the boys who showed us around seemed to finish around 4 every day and then go home but perhaps they were not representative I did wonder about it ...and whether clubs were mostly lunchtime...ideal school is mix of very good academics with good track record of getting boys into Oxbridge but without being a mere exam factory, so a boy can come out truly rounded.

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 11:57:23


Reading somewhat easier commute...within 25 minute commute of Reading by bus and approx 40 mins RGS by train including drop off ...latter an issue for me by car though if I had to pick up after school yes logistics a consideration but not a huge difference in normal commute times for DS...but did think there may be more local boys from Reading where we live than RGS

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 12:03:20

yes have looked at both schools ...but can only get so much from brief tour...still don't think I got "under the skin" of either

I know the sports grounds exist a couple of miles at RGS...I did baulk at lack of green space on site especially compared to what DS has at prep school ...but RGS's reputation and academics seem top notch.

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 12:08:16

Atia - meant to add 4 hours sport a week seems low...but i guess comparing to prep school where considerably more and have a longer day as a result

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 29-Oct-13 12:39:22

shrug it's twice as much as either of my daughters had, which is all I have to compare it to.

There's a 13+ entry at Reading too, btw.

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 12:45:35

yeah ... I don't even know if it's a fair comparison...perhaps you get less sports hours per week at senior indy schools than prep schools...(boarding schools aside) for most the extras you do at DS's school after school, you also pay extra.

mummytime Tue 29-Oct-13 13:57:34

If you were really after more sport, then I would probably look at another school TBH. RGS is an academic school, not a sporty school. It is also a town centre day school, not a boarding school (which seem to do more sport).

Have you talked to your Son's Headteacher? Are these even the right schools for your son? What are your son's interests? Why the focus on Oxbridge?

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 15:02:04

Yes done all that with current school...and DS is academic and we wouldn't be going for a school if we did not think he could thrive there academically (as opposed to bob along the bottom) but he also has other interests (won't go into them all but I think it is healthy that he does)...not looking for an uber sporty school just one that is academic but not mere exam factory and which allows for roundedness (be it sport. music, drama etc)..but also interested in education in the holistic sense ...surely a day school can aspire to that and that is not exclusive domain of boarding schools ....and while that can lead to a wider discussion my questions are more around comparing the two schools from insiders.

Why Oxbridge? Because that is his aspirations, albeit at a young age and they are good aspirations to have if maths and sciences are your interest - who knows that may change and it's not be all and end all - and if he ends up chooses to study say International Relations at uni then UCL may be the first choice ... we know how competitive it is - but just as people choose prep schools that feed into certain public schools based on a notion for their 7 year old that they may want to go to X, Y or Z at age 13, I think it's rational to look at track record of Oxbridge success when choosing a senior school if that's what you are likely to aspire to...knowing there are no guarantees... the overarching theme for Oxbridge is passion for a subject. I don't tend to trust just A level results by themselves and think if a school has a good result for Oxbridge, it must be aiding or even inculcating that "passion" for a subject (over and above just the A level curriculum) which is what Oxbridge is looking for.

mummytime Tue 29-Oct-13 18:42:55

Okay - I do not know Reading, although I do know people who have sent their sons there.

RGS is not an exam factory - it is a school for very bright boys. But being bright doesn't mean you are not well rounded. For example some boys give up their time once a week to teach my DD Latin, I have known several others doing their D of E voluntary work, others are extremely musical (and do joint productions with a local girls school). It does sport, and pretty well, but it isn't a "sporty" school, although those are often for the less bright. I know lots of boys do row with the local rowing club, and quite a few paddle in the Kayak club.

If he wants to go to Oxbridge, thats fine, but a good school will also be able to direct him to other good Universities - a breadth of University destinations can be a good sign too.

I would say that the teachers I know at RGS do tend to have passion for their subject. But so do teachers at other schools I know, including a local comprehensive.

Which school does your son prefer?

happilyconfused Tue 29-Oct-13 18:48:59

DS went to RGS and loved it. Most selectives will cull at Sixth Form but you don't have to worry about it as your boy is bright. My worry would be your son's friendship group I don't know of any boys coming in from Bracknell let alone Reading.

You also need to factor in any sports fixtures that take place on a Saturday morning. I can't remember but certainly in 1st form (Yr 7) there is a rugby D team and a hockey one too. There is Monday Period 8 which finishes after 4.10ish , any after school sport and music band is an early start.

NCISaddict Tue 29-Oct-13 19:02:06

My DS went to RGS, Quite a few boys came in from Reading area as train goes directly to Guildford. We live quite a way out and DS did have to get the train to socialise but it didn't seem to stop him and he became very independent.
I would like to say he is a well rounded young man who is caring and sensible but if he doesn't answer my messages from uni in Venice I may soon change my mind . grin He wasn't particularly sporty but enjoyed the variety of sport available such as fencing and shooting.

racingheart Tue 29-Oct-13 19:19:42


Both my DSs are at RGS. DS1 does a fair amount of sport - rugby practise every Monday evening and then a match on Saturdays, as well as swimming, games and shooting. Was going to do fencing too but it clashed with another club.

DS2 isn't sporty. He's focused on other stuff. RGS has long lunch hours so the boys can do an activity every day if they want. There's loads on, to suit absolutely every interest you can imagine.

The playing fields are 5-10mins away. They do work very hard at RGS, so I think a bit of down time on the coach is part of the fun. It's triple games, not double, so they don't lose out on playing time.

It's very strong musically. Has a great art dept, has a very good voluntary and community service set up and all three options on CCF as well as Scouting etc if boys don't like the military aspect of CCF.

The teachers are great. Our experience of their pastoral work is positive.

It does seem that RGS boys come from quite far flung places. But it doesn't stop socialising. Both DC have met up with friends over half term, and they also go out and about a bit in Guildford as they get older.

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 22:16:11

thanks all...this is very useful...driving distance to Guildford given the traffic is something to think about even if just for the matches...logistics is important ....feel like it's an important decision for 5 or 7 years hence the dilemma...but this is all valuable input to put in the mix.

Indy5 Tue 29-Oct-13 22:19:50


so what does your boy do after rugby on Monday evening, perhaps you live locally, but for those that catch the train, do the school drop them off by school coach back at school and then they catch the train home.(which may be less frequent than earlier in the day) ..just contemplating that on dark winter evenings hence some doubts on logistics

Tanith Tue 29-Oct-13 23:49:45

I know both schools. I grew up in Reading and I now live not far from Guildford. I know boys from both schools.

My impression is that they are quite similar. Both have green areas very near to, or on the school site and both have sports grounds further away. Both use ancient old buildings: I think Reading, although not at its original site, is the older, and RGS does have more a more modern site across the road.
RGS is right in the middle of town; Reading is a little further out, opposite the hospital.
Reading is a state day and boarding school; RGS is a private day school.

The commute depends very much where you live. If you are driving in from outside Reading, it's horrendous. If you live in South Reading, you should be OK. It's well served by public transport but you would need to use buses from the main train station.
Guildford commute isn't nearly as bad to get to the town itself but, as I said, it's right in the middle of town and difficult to get to - most of the boys catch the train to London Road station.

Both are extremely academic and, it's my impression, are quite traditional and conformist. We were advised not to enter my very academic son for RGS because of this. Excellent teaching staff at both schools.

I believe it is harder to get into Reading - the competition for places is incredibly fierce.

Amber2 Wed 30-Oct-13 00:31:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Amber2 Wed 30-Oct-13 00:46:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BeckAndCall Wed 30-Oct-13 07:06:55

I can't help you with a comparison, but my DS was at RGS and my girls at GHS so I can offer some comments.

My DS ws not 'sporty' but did play badminton, tennis and ski race - the first two on site and the latter by minibus which then dropped them back at the station.

He was musical though and the music was great. And still is - my DD in the sixth form has always got a joint production going on with the boys - a show, or a choir event, or a summer tour.

As others have said, there is a direct train from Reading. It is not unusual for boys and girls to travel long distances to the schools - my own DDs have an hours journey, for example (nearer an hour and 10 door to door, actually)

BUT I've always wondered what we would have chosen if there had been grammar schools in our county.

DalmationDots Wed 30-Oct-13 17:18:05

My DS was at RGS, I can't fault it in any way. It was the best decision we made to send him there. A really well run school which understands boys' needs.
Music is outstanding. Sports caters for all abilities and so many choices. A really good mix of boys from all sorts of backgrounds.
Lots travel a long way, up to an hour and a half I'd say, to get there. There is a direct train from reading so it is very accessible.
Lots of links with local girls school, especially GHS where my DD was at.
The year groups are a good size meaning boys really do find like-minded friends who they are comfortable with.
The lack of on-site sports fields is not an issue, the fields are a 10 minute drive away and they are worth it when you get there!
Any issues DS had were resolved immediately and with great care.

I don't know anything about Reading Grammar, I'd go and have a look, look at the sixth formers and think is that the type of boy I want my DS to grow up to be like. It is tricky, and a huge amount of money to consider! I don't know what I would do if we had an almost RGS equivalent but free on offer to us! I think RGS would have to really stand out in comparison rather than only just top it.

racingheart Wed 30-Oct-13 18:12:16

Indy, no we don't live locally. The school drops them back at school or they practise on the all terrain at school, so those who get the train, like DS does, can just do so/ Monday is a very long day for him and he's shattered, but he recovers quickly.

Tanith, what do you mean, you were advised not to enter your son for RGS because it is conformist? Not sure what is meant by conformist. They are very eccentric at RGS which is one reason DC love it there. Both boys and staff have quite an off the wall sense of humour. But they do work very hard. Why would an academic boy be dissuaded from trying for RGS? It is a great school for naturally academic boys.

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