The Royal Alexandra and Albert School is an all-through co-educational boarding school located in Reigate, Surrey. The headmaster as of 2015 was Paul Spencer Ellis. The Royal Alexandra and Albert School Act, of 1949, united The Royal Alexandra School, which was founded in 1758, and The Royal Albert orphan School, which was founded in 1864 as a national memorial to Prince Albert, late husband of Queen Victoria. It is one of 36 state-maintained boarding schools in England and Wales, and one of the few state schools in the United Kingdom to educate children from primary school years to sixth form.
The earliest link in the school's history goes back to the Orphan Working School which was founded in 1758 by fourteen men meeting in an Inn led by Edward Pickard, a dissenting minister. The school expanded under the secretaryship of Joseph Soul in Hampstead. It continued to expand and it opened a linked convalescent home in Margate.
The other part of the school was known as the Royal Albert Orphan Asylum. It was situated in Camberley, just outside Bagshot's boundary, and was opened in 1864. The second school was intended for children between the age of five and eight and was founded by the Orphan Working School with Joseph Soul as the first honorary secretary. In 1867 Queen Victoria planted a Wellingtonia Gigantica tree during an "Inauguration Ceremony" for the school. A stone at the site was engraved VIR 1867 and is mistakenly thought by some to be the foundation stone of the building. The Wellingtonia survives to this day. A later patron of the school was Victoria's son Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.
After the school left, the site was for a while used as the WRAC College. Boys at the school were required to work in addition to their schooling: for example on the farm, in the gardens, in a tailor's shop and in a cobbler's workshop.
The two schools, the Royal Alexandra Orphanage and the Royal Albert School joined together in Gatton Park, just after the Second World War. Over the years it evolved from an orphanage to a state boarding school. There are around 36 state boarding schools in the UK, where education is provided by the state and parents pay for board.
The school's foundation still supports some children whose home circumstances make a boarding education desirable.
The school's grounds, Gatton Park were previously owned by Sir Jeremiah Colman of Colman's mustard and were extensively landscaped by celebrated 18th century landscape gardener Capability Brown.
Gatton Hall, the stately home built within the grounds, is now used as a boarding house for Sixth Form students.
The Royal Alexandra and Albert School is a true boarding school in that all its pupils are boarders and there is school on Saturday mornings so that boarders can have longer holidays. Around half are full boarders who go home at weekends and for holidays. The rest are Flexi Boarders who stay for the extended day and stay overnight for between 7 and 10 nights a year.
The School has its own riding stables and around 20 horses. Pupils can learn to ride for pleasure; lessons are arranged at lunchtimes or after school. Pupils can also study BTEC Horsecare as an option when studying for GCSEs or BTEC Horse Management as an option when studying for A levels. BTEC Countryside Management is also available at the School. The school is a member of the British Horse Society.
The school has facilities for sports including rugby, netball, lacrosse, hockey, swimming, football, tennis, and athletics.
Former pupils of The Royal Alexandra And Albert School are known as Old Gattonians.
The Royal Alexandra And Albert School have produced a large number of notable citizens that have succeeded in all walks of life.