• Radley College, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 2HR
  • Telephone: 01235 543000, Fax: 01235 543106





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What are Radley's Common Entrance Requirements?

If prep schools and parents have any doubts at all about whether a boy is likely to achieve 60% average marks in Common Entrance including 60% in both English and Maths, they should contact the Registrar at the earliest opportunity. Every year a number of boys come to Radley in early October to sit a Common Entrance Guidance Assessment in English and Maths. Using this information we will give an honest appraisal of whether we feel a boy is likely to reach Common Entrance standard in June.

What does a new boy (Shell) study in his first year at Radley?


Radley is a strong believer in the efficiency of class setting in the vast majority of academic subjects. This allows for a boy to move at a speed appropriate to his level of knowledge, competence and potential at a given stage in his Radley career. This is particularly important for English, Maths, Science and Languages. It makes sense for a boy to move up or down, particularly in Maths or Science if he is struggling to keep up or, alternatively, finding the pace too easy. It is perfectly possible for a boy to be in the top set for one subject and somewhat lower down in another. 

We ask parents of new boys not to worry about initial setting, as we have stringent assessment processes to ensure that a boy is placed in the set appropriate to his needs at a given time. It should be noted that whereas most boys will study two languages (one of which must be French), boys of exceptional linguistic ability will be able to study three languages (French, German and Spanish) each on three periods per cycle. Boys who have studied Greek before are usually taught separately from those who are starting for the first time. The top Latin sets receive an introduction to Greek across the year, while other boys are taught Classical Civilisation. All Shell boys undertake studies in Information Technology (with some emphasis on computational thinking), Independent Learning and Theology. It should be stressed that from the outset, the intention in the Shell academic year is to expose boys to as wide a variety of subjects as possible. We also are aware that in some cases we have to restore a boy’s faith in a subject so that he is in the strongest possible position to choose wisely for his GCSEs.

How do I know how my son is progressing in his academic life at Radley?


Radley is proud of its thorough and regular reporting system. Every three weeks, parents receive a report designed primarily for internal use, which makes clear a boy’s progress, or lack of it, in each subject. For Lower School boys, an absence of significant written comment should not be regarded as an issue, so long as a boy is scoring well in the rankings for effort, performance, organisation and communication skills. For the Sixth Form, the process is more involved and requires boys to evaluate themselves, before their dons make their own comments.

For all Radleians, the Form Master has the primary academic overview (although the Tutor will take a very close interest too) and will discuss each report as it appears with his/her charges. End of term reports are written for every boy. Inevitably, these are more detailed than mid-term reports and will hopefully provide parents with an accurate summary of a boy’s academic position and progress. Throughout each term there is an on-going conversation involving the boy, his Form Master, his Tutor and individual subject dons, which will hopefully ensure that support is provided with encouragement or chiding given, as appropriate. Where serious issues arise, the Academic Director will become involved and will consult boys and parents, as necessary.

For which external examination systems does Radley prepare?

Radley prepares boys for both IGCSE and GCSE examinations at Year 11. However, a considerable number of boys will sit Maths and French early. Each academic department is free to choose whether it offers IGCSE or GCSE or a combination. Equally, each department is free to choose the exam board for its syllabus. This freedom of choice ensures that the best programmes of study are selected, thus allowing Radleians to enjoy genuine breadth and depth in their academic studies. We also have a long standing attachment to A levels and do not sit either the International Baccalaureate or Pre-U. Boys wishing to apply to American universities are given instruction in the SAT.

Why does Radley do A-Levels and not the IB or Pre-U examinations?

Radley has looked very carefully at alternatives to A-level examinations. Whilst there is a great deal that is valuable in the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Pre-U exams, we have decided to remain with A-levels for the following reasons: 

  1. A-levels are highly respected currency for access to all UK and world universities. Past experience has shown that Radley boys have flourished extremely well in all types of university in Britain and abroad, having studied A-levels at the school;
  2. A-levels allow for broader choice of subject, which caters to all levels of interest and ability, including the fact that some people will never be able to pursue maths, science, or indeed art subjects very successfully beyond GCSEs;
  3. The coalition government’s reforms of A-levels have made them even more rigorous - by increasing their content and addressing the issue of national grade inflation. These factors will only boost their attractiveness to university selectors and employers.
  4. Reforms to A-levels have vindicated Radley’s long-standing policy of sitting all A-level components at the end of the sixth form - the linear policy. 

We have rejected the idea of a hybrid system of examinations in the sixth form as this tends to dissipate the energies of academic staff.

What is Radley doing to help those with learning support requirements?

The Academic Support Department aims to enable all boys to achieve their full academic potential, and to ensure that no boy’s progress is held back by any kind of learning difficulty.
There is recognition that any boy, including the very able and highly intelligent individuals, may suffer from weaknesses in their learning profiles. We aim to help all these students realise their full potential. The work of the department forms an integral part of the curriculum: it supports learning and the acquisition of skills in all subject areas.
a) Before coming to Radley

Parents and schools are asked to inform us of any problems that a boy is experiencing and to send us a copy of all Educational Psychologist’s assessments undertaken. Our Head of Academic Support will analyse these assessments and advise the Warden as to whether Radley is the appropriate school for the boy’s particular learning profile. In certain cases a boy may be better advised to go to another school which is better suited to deal with his particular circumstances. One issue that sometimes arises is handwriting and the use of laptops. Our handwriting policy encourages competence in handwriting. We normally expect prep schools to continue with the use of handwriting, which we consider a fundamental skill, and as such an educational entitlement. However, if typing has become a boy's 'normal way of working' as a result of a recommendation by an Educational Psychologist they will of course continue to type work, when this is appropriate.

b) At Radley

Any boy who has been diagnosed by an Educational Psychologist with having a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) before coming to Radley and has thus requested access arrangements at Common Entrance will be reassessed upon arrival at Radley in Year 9 (as a Shell). This ensures our provision confirms with JCQ regulations relating to GCSE and A-level access arrangements. Indeed, the entire Shell cohort undergo literacy and numeracy tests in the first half of the Michaelmas Term. Following this, any boy previously not diagnosed with a SpLD, who is identified as needing a formal assessment will be tested, will – as with boys referred in Years 10-13 - be seen by the independent Educational Psychologist who visits Radley several times a term. Subsequently, based on the recommendations made, regular individual Academic Support sessions and a frequently-reviewed Individual Education Plan (IEP) with targets will be put in place. 


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