The Oratory School, Berkshire, England, UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Oratory School, Berkshire, England, UK

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The Oratory School is an all-boys Roman Catholic public school. It is situated in Woodcote, near Reading, Berkshire in England, UK. Based around a Georgian main building in spacious grounds, it has a golf course, a large sports centre including a real tennis court1, and far too many sports pitches.

On the negative side, however:

  • It's in the middle of nowhere as far as shopping or out-of-school recreation are concerned.

  • Most of the larger dormitories are continually 'about to be re-done'.

  • At the time of writing the music department was falling to pieces.


Cardinal Henry Newman founded the Oratory School in 1858. The original school was in Birmingham, but was moved to Caversham (near Reading, Berkshire) at the beginning of World War II, to be safer from the bombing. It remained there until after the war, when it moved just up the road to its current site.


There are four houses in the main school2. They are called St John, Faber, Norris and Fitzalan, with current opinion picking St John as the best house. Their house colours are red, yellow, green and black respectively. Each of the houses is named after an important person in the history of the school. For Forms 1 and 2 (Years 7-8) there is Junior House, which is generally agreed to be the most pleasant house, even if it is a seven-minute brisk walk away from the canteen. Its colour is blue.


When you're in the 3rd Form (Y9), the accommodation is in dormitories of 4 - 8 people, in the 4th (Y10) it's in dormitories or studies for 1 - 2 people, and after that it's in studies. Some of the rooms are falling to pieces or messy, but others are really pleasant.


Actually, it's pretty good. There's quite a wide choice, and it's generally considered edible. However, sometimes the younger students complain that the older ones shove their way to the front of the queue and take all the nice stuff. And when the younger ones turn into the older ones they do it too. Thus, the food chain in the great cycle of life continues.


Pretty average, as faculties go - some are really nice, some are really weird and some are really stressed. At the time of writing, there's a considerable turnover going on, especially with the upcoming change in headmaster.


The school does quite a lot of sport - rugby, football, cricket, and tennis, as well as golf, rowing and sailing competitively. It also occasionally does foreign tours - in 1999/2000 the 1st cricket team went to Barbados, the 1st rugby team went to Canada, and the U16 and U14 rugby teams went to Belfast in Northern Ireland.

1Real tennis is the forerunner of modern tennis and was made phenomenally popular by Henry VIII.2That is, Forms 3 onwards, or Year 9 onwards if you attend state school.

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