Leighton Park School
Leighton Park School is a Quaker public school for both boarding and day pupils in Reading, Berkshire, England. The school was founded in 1890, thirteen years after predecessor Grove School Tottenham had closed. Grove School Tottenham had educated notable personalities such as Lord Lister, Alfred Waterhouse, Thomas Hodgkin, and Joseph Lister.

The school is situated in a parkland estate setting just south of the town centre of Reading, adjacent to the Whiteknights Park campus of the University of Reading. The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. In 2008, the school was accepted for teaching of the International Baccalaureate qualification which commenced at the beginning of the 2009/10 academic year. In 2010, the Head John Dunston announced his intention to step down. Alex McGrath has been appointed as the new Head from January 2011. The latest edition of The Good Schools Guide describes Leighton Park as "one of the most distinctive schools we'd visited and we came away with a renewed sense of hope for the future. More schools would do well to adopt the LP model " it has integrity and honesty at heart".

The teaching of young people has always been a priority for Quakers; from the late seventeenth century onwards, many were involved in establishing schools for their own children and others in need. In this light, Leighton Park was opened in 1890 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as a public school for boys, with the specific aim of preparing academically able boys to enter university, to think for themselves and to develop self-reliance. Nicknamed 'the Quaker Eton' at the time, it has sent a high proportion of its pupils to Oxford or Cambridge. To this day it retains academic prestige, being described as a school that possesses "outstanding teaching, facilities and excellent academic results give it the qualities that parents seek in a school" recently by ISBI schools. Leighton Park grew from 4 boys in 1890 to 103 in the 1920s. By 1970 the school had 300 pupils, and in 1975 girls were admitted to the sixth form. Today the school is home to 490 pupils drawn from almost twenty different countries. In 2004, 'Oakview', the new central-dining facility was introduced instead of traditional in-house dining. The facility was officially opened by Sir Steve Redgrave. The development plans on the schools website state it plans to increase the school roll to a maximum of 510 in the near future.

Traditions and routines
Leighton Park, due to its Quaker faith, has marked customs and traditions which differ from those in Anglican schools. Some of these traditions are:
  • "Collect": The daily routine meeting similar to that of assembly in other schools, where the school gathers for presentations and talks. Every collect is then finished with a silence lasting several minutes to reflect on the topic addressed in the meeting. The distinct difference between "Collect" and other similar meetings in Anglican schools is the omission of hymn singing.
  • " Meeting for Worship": A weekly event which replaces "Collect" on Thursday, similar to Quaker meetings across the country. The meeting is held in silence to reflect on thoughts and feelings, with a free forum for anyone to stand up and break the silence by speaking about the issue on their mind. "Meeting for Worship" currently lasts 20”“25 minutes, reduced from longer lengths over the years.
  • "Monthly Meeting": A meeting held once a month which gives the chance for the pupil body to air grievances on any matter (such as dress code, lunch queues etc.). It is usually clerked by the Head Boy and Head Girl, alongside a member of staff to takes the minutes, with the school senior management usually present to respond to grievances. This form of response differs from the traditional Quaker Monthly Meeting, in that senior staff respond directly to issues, rather than said issues being considered by the meeting as a whole and any outcome being the product of the meeting as a whole. There are, however, plans for a revision of the current system, with current members of the school wishing to create a monthly meeting closer to the style of a Quaker Business Meeting.

There are five houses at Leighton Park; four senior and one junior; with an average of 100 pupils in each senior house and approximately 90 pupils in the junior house. The first house established is named 'Grove', after Grove School Tottenham, which the school has historical links with. The junior house, 'Fryer', houses pupils aged 11”“13. All houses are mixed sex, and they all have facilities for day and boarding pupils.

Leighton Park has been in the press numerous times in the past, most recently in light of events such as the visit by the late Michael Foot, ex- Labour leader and a former pupil, and for the introduction of a music workshop in the school by ex-child soldier turned musician, Ben Okafor.

The school is mentioned in the play and film, The History Boys , by Alan Bennett. The headmaster mentions schools he would like to emulate regarding high pupil entry to Oxford; among them is Leighton Park " 'or is that an open prison?', he adds.

Former pupils
Leighton Park has an extensive range of distinguished former pupils, or Old Leightonians. These include the prominent Oscar award-winning film director Sir David Lean; Conservative Party politician Tony Baldry; former Labour party leader Michael Foot; actor Jim Broadbent; Labour party politician Quentin Davies; former UK ambassador to the United Nations Lord Caradon; Jamiroquai bassist Stuart Zender; former GCHQ director Sir John Adye; painter/founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and close friend of Picasso, Sir Roland Penrose; singer/songwriter Laura Marling, and a variety of other public figures.

Former head pupils

House Type of House Housemaster School Senior Simon Cain Field Senior Mark Simmons Grove Senior Geoff Harnett Reckitt Senior Julian Berrow Fryer Junior Roger Alywood Year Head Boy House Head Girl House 1998/1999 Chris Stubbs Grove Nicola Gibberd Reckitt 1999/2000 Carl Jani Field Zoe de Turberville Reckitt 2000/2001 James Dalby Field Lily Jablenska Grove 2001/2002 Chris Allinson School Emma Hudson School 2002/2003 Mike Driver School Lizzie Scotney Grove 2003/2004 Alexander Dresner Field Liggy Griffiths School 2004/2005 Tom MacAndrew School Sam Brown Grove 2005/2006 Jonathan Beale Field Benjy Avro Reckitt 2006/2007 Alexander Walton Field Clara Bennett Reckitt 2007/2008 Jack Stubbs School Hannah Dodds Grove 2008/2009 James Barratt Field Ellen Green Grove 2009/2010 Phil Dunster Field Emma Lucas Reckitt