Reading Blue Coat School enjoys a beautiful setting in the Thames-side village of Sonning, four miles outside the centre of Reading. Blue Coat has 46 acres of land for pupils to enjoy and the school invests generously in new developments, while ensuring that existing facilities are well-maintained. The Governors have an ambitious master-plan for the ongoing improvement of the site and there has been notable development in recent years.
An important component of this development is the Richard Aldworth Building. Built in 2012, it comprises 23 classrooms that provide first-class teaching facilities for a number of major departments, a new Art department with views over Blue Coat’s pitches and the River Thames, and a Common Room for Middle School pupils, which leads outside to a further area where pupils can socialise and relax. Although the building is modern and features a number of environmental features, such as a ground-source heat pump and the recycling of rainwater, it has been designed to fit with the oldest building on the school site, the Holme Park mansion.
In September 2013, the Brian Walsh Building opened as the new home for the Psychology and Geology departments, featuring classrooms and laboratories for each department. A new Lower School Common Room opened at the same time, when substantial updates to the Dining Hall and Kitchen and to changing facilities were completed.
More recently, the school opened a new Information Technology Centre, which includes four computer suites and a departmental office, and also houses IT Support and the essential infrastructure for IT around the school. There has been considerable investment in this area in recent years, particularly in the establishment of a strong and secure wireless network and in the effective implementation of a Management Information System.
In January 2016, the school improved the main access road to provide safety and efficiency in dropping off or picking up pupils. Meanwhile, work is progressing on the next phase of the school’s development plan, which is the building of a new Design Technology Centre, comprising three workshops and a teaching space. These will allow the school to make use of sophisticated technologies such as 3D printers and laser cutters, while building on traditional expertise in woodwork and metalwork.
Planning permission has been obtained for a new Grounds, Maintenance and Activities Centre and subsequently for a new auditorium and Performing Arts Centre, which will provide fitting accommodation for a thriving part of the school.
Sport plays a major part in the life of the school and we are fortunate to have a considerable number of pitches on site, as well as a modern Sports Hall, including a well-provisioned Fitness Suite. Rowing is ever more popular and the school recently opened a new boathouse, which is situated on the school site on a particularly beautiful stretch of the Thames.