Shiplake College is an independent boarding and day school in Shiplake, by the River Thames just outside Henley-on-Thames, England. The school, with 450 pupils, welcomes boys from 11–18 and girls from 16-18.
The College offers small class sizes, multi-sensory teaching, outstanding sporting opportunities and pastoral care. Pupils are encouraged to pursue a broad education taking part a diverse programme of co-curricular activities. Courses are organised to develop leadership and management skills. The College aims to 'add value' to pupils of all abilities both inside and outside the classroom and has an extensive learning development department to provide support to all students.
According to the Good Schools Guide, the College is "A good school on an upward curve, with a charismatic, no-nonsense, forward looking head (complete with iPad and tweets) plus a dedicated team in an enchanting location."
Shiplake College was founded in 1959 by Alexander and Eunice Everett. The land on which the school now stands was bought by Robert Harrison in 1888 and the original buildings date from 1890. The main building, which houses Skipwith House and the Great Hall, was built as a private residence for the Harrison family. The house was sold in 1925 and was at first a private home to Lord Wargrave and then a prep school, before being sold to the BBC in 1941. Initially the BBC used Shiplake Court as a storage facility until in 1943 the BBC Monitoring Service moved to Caversham and the house became a hostel for BBC staff. The BBC closed the hostel in 1953 and the house remained largely unused until the arrival of the Everetts in 1958. The College now stands in 45 acres of land on the banks of the Thames. In late 1958 the Everetts purchased Shiplake Court with the intention of founding a school which duly opened as Shiplake College on 1 May 1959. In 1963 John Eggar, a Derbyshire cricketer who had been a housemaster at Repton School, became headmaster. By the time he retired in 1979, numbers had increased to 300.
Girls aged 16–18 were introduced towards the end of the 20th Century, forming a co-educational Sixth Form. The College now stands in 45 acres of land on the banks of the Thames and the site and buildings have been imaginatively adapted to the needs of the 21st Century.
The school has a broad admissions policy, taking into account all aspects of a pupil’s potential on entry, not just academic potential. Consequently, results naturally have a greater span than those schools who actively select according to academic ability. Despite this, there has been a significant upward trend in GCSE and A Level results over the last ten years; a reflection of a greater focus on academic rigour. Many pupils achieve far higher grades than they were predicted to when they joined Shiplake College, with value-added at an academic and personal level a strength of the school. The vast majority of pupils proceed directly to university, accessing a number of leading Russell Group and Ivy League institutions.
In 2015, the College achieved an excellent set of results at A Level, BTEC and GCSE. The statistics represented a further improvement from 2014, continuing an ongoing trend of strong examination performances. Notably, the attainment of high end grades (A*-A) by pupils in Year 12 and 13 increased by almost 10%. The attainment of A*-B grades also rose significantly across both year groups, by 12%, whilst the overall pass rate now sits at 99%.
The Houses are at the heart of College life. The pupils are allocated into one of five houses with Boys becoming members of either Orchard or Skipwith (if they are day boys) or Burr, Everett or Welsh (if they are boarders). Girls are members of Gilson House, whilst Upper Sixth boys reside in College. Pupils in years 7 and 8 are members of the Lower School.
Leadership skills, teamwork and confidence are discovered and developed through the extensive programme of sports and activities. Two afternoons per week are dedicated towards co-curricular activities and clubs. Drama and Music are also very popular at the College, with regular concerts and performances occurring across the year.
The college also has an expedition society, where students spend a month in Kenya. Pupils help out at the Kikunduku schools project and participate in a wide range of other activities such as climbing Mount Kenya.
The College has a strong sporting ethos. The Good Schools Guide notes that "Rugby, rowing, hockey, cricket, athletics and netball plus a good smattering of minor sports and house fixtures are important, improving, inclusive and competitive (notable successes against much bigger rivals). In line with school spirit, fixture boards welcome the opposition and wish them luck."
Rowing is an important school sport, with the College located on the banks of the River Thames. In recent years, Shiplake crews have enjoyed considerable national success, including winning the Child Beale Cup at National Schools' Regatta. Several boys have represented England and Great Britain. Most notably, former pupil Will Satch claimed an Olympic Bronze medal at London 2012 in the Men's Pair event.
As well as rowing, the College plays Rugby. Former pupil Tom Howe now plays for London Wasps. Every season, Shiplake take part in a local rugby event called 'Friday Night Lights' hosted by Henley Hawks RFC. In November 2013, Shiplake beat Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood 26-7 in front of a crowd of over 500 people.
The following have served as headmasters of the school:Alexander Everett (1959–1963)
John Eggar (1963–1979)
Peter Lapping (1979–1988)
Nick Bevan (1988–2004)
Gregg Davies (2004 – present)
Tom Chilton, touring car driver
Chris Cracknell, rugby player, head coach Fiji 7's team at 2016 Summer Olympics
Dhani Harrison, George Harrison's son, musician
Jonty Hearnden, antiques expert on Antiques Roadshow and Cash in the Attic
Ben Hunt-Davis Gold Olympian rower in the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics in the men's VIII.
Nick Jones, Soho House proprietor
Kia Joorabchian, businessman
Nicholas Medforth-Mills, Romanian Prince
Alex Pettyfer, actor
Chris Standring, jazz musician
Will Satch, Bronze medallist in the London 2012 Olympic Games (Rowing - men's pair)