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Queen Anne's School, Caversham Reading, Berkshire Visit
Queen Anne's School, Caversham
416 pupils, ages 11-18
Girls only
Day and Boarding

Queen Anne's School, Caversham

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Our view

There’s a wonderfully unconventional buzz about Queen Anne’s, a smashing little school that has a forward-thinking head and is leading the way when it comes to innovative learning. Girls here don’t need to be top of the class – just happy to step out of their comfort zone and throw themselves into the endless opportunities that come their way. Queen Anne’s is all about helping pupils to be at the top of their game through happiness and creativity. It’s a surefire alternative to the higher-pressure London scene, and we can see why urbanites are flocking here.


This is prime commuter-belt territory; 34 acres of Surrey real estate, just 22 minutes to Oxford by train and 26 minutes to London Paddington. The school has been on the same site since 1894 (in fact, it’s been around a lot longer – it was founded by the Grey Coat Hospital Foundation in Westminster in 1689, and still retains links with Westminster Abbey). Set in an ivy-clad Victorian mansion, it’s a little austere from the outside but achingly up-to-the-minute on the inside (more on that later). Bonus points for the tremendous views over the beautifully manicured lawns, stretching down to a wide spread of playing fields. The sense of space is palpable and the 22 dogs on site make Queen Anne’s a real boon for London girls choosing to escape to this country home from home.


Julia Harrington is a dynamo: impressive, inspirational and a caring role model for each and every one of her girls. She’s also incredibly progressive and has pioneered her very own neurological programme, BrainCanDo, in an attempt to bring holistic education and her pupils’ wellbeing to the fore. Created in conjunction with psychologists at the University of Reading and Goldsmiths, it aims to help parents, teachers and girls get to grips with the teenage brain: how learning works, what might upset the apple cart and how to manage stress. Mrs Harrington has even trialled cool things like later start times to see what impact an extra hour in bed has on classroom performance. We’re surprised more heads aren’t doing the same.

Mrs Harrington is leaving in January 2022 to further develop her BrainCanDo programme but she will be replaced by Elaine Purves, the current head of St John's International School in Belgium. We look forward to meeting her once she's settled in.


Queen Anne’s is selective but not aggressively so, which means there’s a good mix of ability on arrival. Most pupils join at 11+, but you can bag a deferred place at 13+, which should come in handy for anyone looking to avoid the crush. You can register any time up until the first weekend of October the year before entry; prospective pupils are interviewed in groups and sit written and online assessments. Queen Anne’s looks not only for academic results but also at what the girls have to offer; the interview process celebrates creative thinking and exploring questions which definitely challenge conventional thought patterns. Places are offered subject to CE results – and taster days and boarding weekends give everyone the chance to get to know the school before accepting their spot.

Academics and university destinations

Exam results are important, but this is no pressure cooker. The Queen Anne’s ethos is centred on the significance of introducing creative thinking as a way of unlocking potential – and it delivers in spades with 70 per cent of this year's A-level grades either As or A*s.  Several of the 2021 leavers have gone on to study medicine or to Russell Group universities, aided in part by daily subject clinics and regular tracking and monitoring (at all levels) which offer a real safety net for anyone worried about falling behind.

The sixth form is a particularly sparkly jewel in Queen Anne’s crown. Not just the cutting edge ‘The Space’ building with its dry-wipe tables and creatively stimulating Google-esque breakout rooms; but also the focus on developing emotionally intelligent women capable of leadership and conflict resolution – and that’s just for starters. The whole atmosphere screams fun (and hard work) – and there’s never a shortage of cake (yup, they’ve got their own private chef too). This year’s A-level offering includes criminology, sociology, film studies, music tech and environmental science, plus there is also a dedicated member of staff who leads EPQ. Little wonder that, with first-rate careers and university planning, Queen Anne’s girls end up at an excitingly broad range of universities, US colleges, apprenticeships and art and drama schools.


With a handful of Olympian alumnae – and a Rio Games medal-holder as director of rowing – sport here is pretty inspirational. Lacrosse is the big passion (lots of rivalry with Downe House, we’re told), and tennis is on the up with the LTA naming Queen Anne’s as its second-best tennis school last year. The beauty of the school’s small size is that girls can play on virtually every team if they wish but, equally, they might find their passion doing Zumba, Pilates, dance or meditation. The school boasts a very snazzy strength-and-conditioning suite, climbing wall and sprung-floor dance studio and next on the ‘imminent list’ is a floodlit Astro.

Girls cram as many activities as possible into their long lunch break: practising their lines for LAMDA exams, learning any instrument under the sun (no matter how niche – if you want to play it, they’ll find you a teacher) or mastering the art of animation in the whopper of an art department. The school is peppered with wonderful portraits done by the pupils and the on-site kiln is a huge plus for those with a penchant for ceramics.

The new music centre has been a real boost to the department: on top of plentiful performing space, there’s a slick iMac suite for composing – and girls hook up with boys from The Oratory for concerts. But crucially, music seems ingrained in the fabric of the school with our researcher spotting children just tinkling away on the piano in the boarding house at lunchtime for fun. Saturday school is optional for day girls (but they’ll need to pop in if they’re playing in an afternoon match), but we’d rush back for all the extras laid on: everything from first aid and cookery to trampolining and Mandarin. Parents are allowed to join in – and they do.


Boarding continues to be fabulously flexible at Queen Anne’s with options to board, flexi board or just have the odd ‘B&B’ night. The recent need to ‘bubble’ the girls in year groups has led to an overhaul of the house system for September 2021, as it seemed beneficial to give the younger girls their own, slightly separate space. Senior girls are distributed throughout the houses nearer the main school whereas Years 7, 8 and 9 are newly accommodated in Michell, which is a short walk beyond the sports field. Michell is cosy, fun and inviting and comes complete with house dogs Coco and Crumpet all beetling about under the experienced eyes of Heidi and Gary Blunt.

Senior houses are equally lovely and homely (most have dogs running around), with big farmhouse-style kitchens for girls to gossip and sip hot chocolate in. All upper-sixth students get their own rooms with an ensuite thrown in for the heads of house. Just under half of the pupils board but day girls and boarders all mingle in the sitting rooms at lunchtimes to ensure cohesion. Pupils are allowed phones in their houses, but must hand them in at night and before the school day. There are regular talks on phone and internet safety and girls are encouraged to learn by education and not enforcement; trust and personal responsibility are the watchwords here.

Saturday night is ‘takeaway night’ where boarders can order in from the town, and weekend activities cater for all – whether your daughter is after a social with Radley or they just fancy a trip to the cinema.

Clearly the school-life balance is at the forefront at this traditional yet visionary school and recent feedback from day pupils and weekly boarders has led to an early finish on Wednesdays and Fridays to allow for more family time.

School community

Doting housemistresses keep a watchful eye on pupils’ wellbeing, but parents tell us there’s a remarkably relaxed feel here – and the school is very quick to act on any concerns. We get the sense there’s a distinct lack of peer pressure too; and the senior students we met were articulate and poised in an understated and down-to-earth way while the juniors enjoyed the freedom just to play and be children.

Another positive new development forged from the iron bars of Covid is Queen Anne’s new ‘Charter’ system, which initially allowed girls to take part in all sorts of competitions while still in their bubbles. It has remained, almost as a vertical tutor system which spans across all year groups and houses. Even the support staff have been allocated a Charter (they have been very enthusiastic about this) and the girls have named them after historical female figures ranging from Emmeline Pankhurst to Aretha Franklin.

Pupils travel up to an hour and a half each day to get here, and many hop on the weekly bus from London or even commute daily on the super-fast train. A lot of boarders live surprisingly close, which speaks volumes. The school gets a bit more diverse further up the school, with a few overseas students usually arriving for sixth form.

And finally...

We’re really impressed with Queen Anne’s. It feels like a genuinely accommodating, flexible school to live and learn in, and there’s much to be said for all the innovative things they’re doing too. Parents we spoke to were unanimous in their opinion that it produces ‘all-round good eggs’, which seems a fitting and enviable compliment. For parents who want capable, confident girls who are comfortable in their own skin, it is definitely the place to be.

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Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
Queen Anne's School, Caversham gallery image
  • Academic results

    GCSE results
    A level results
    Download results as PDF
  • Subjects offered


    Art & Design
    Computer Science
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Language
    English Literature
    Further Mathematics
    Physical Education
    Religious Studies

    A Level

    Art & Design
    Business Studies
    Computer Science
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Literature
    Further Mathematics
    Physical Education
    Religious Studies
  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 7£8,370
    Year 8£8,370
    Year 9£8,370
    Year 10£8,370
    Year 11£8,370
    Year 12£8,370
    Year 13£8,370
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7£13,590
    Year 8£13,590
    Year 9£13,590
    Year 10£13,590
    Year 11£13,590
    Year 12£13,590
    Year 13£13,590

    Queen Anne’s offers a small bursary scheme offering means-tested support with fees for qualifying families. They also offer discounts on fees for children of members of the Armed Forces and siblings of existing Queen Anne’s School students.

    For more information, please see the school website, which also has a link to an enquiry form for more details:

    Bursary contact:
  • SEND

    Co-ordinator: Leonie Keyte
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School bus service to/from London
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest London tube station: London Paddington Station
    Nearest mainline train station: Reading Station
    Nearest London Overground station: London Paddington Station
    Journey time to London by train: 23 minutes
    Nearest international airport: London Heathrow (25 miles)

School Updates

  • View from the top: Julia Harrington on Educational Neuroscience

  • Queen Anne's students celebrate excellent A Level results

  • GCSE Success for Queen Anne's Students

  • Queen Anne's recognised as digital leaders

    Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, has been awarded the prestigious Microsoft Showcase School Award for the third year running.
  • WATCH: Queen Anne's Sixth Form Unique Leadership Programme

  • WATCH: Queen Anne's Sixth Form Subjects and Facilities

  • WATCH: Queen Anne's from above

  • WATCH: GCSE & A Level Art Summary 2021

  • Virtual tour of Queen Anne's

  • WATCH: 10 Questions with Julia Harrington, head of Queen Anne's School

  • WATCH: Back Seat of the School Bus with...Queen Anne's School Legend, Nicky Burley

  • Reverse commuting: schools a train ride from London

  • Queen Anne’s School announces new Head


6 Henley Road, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire RG4 6DX

01189 187300


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