Mr Furlong was among three people who were stabbed to death in Forbury Gardens in the horrific attack. His parents, Gary and Janet, said: “James was a wonderful man. He was beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun. He was the best son, brother, uncle and partner you could wish for. We are thankful for the memories he gave us all. We will never forget him and he will live in our hearts forever.”
Mr Furlong was a teacher at The Holt School in Wokingham and was also head of history, government and politics.
The school’s co-headteachers Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce described him as “wonderfully talented”, “inspirational” and a “kind and gentle man”.
A statement from The Holt School read: “He had a real sense of duty and cared for each and every one of our students.
“He truly inspired everyone he taught through his passion for his subject and his dedication.
“He was determined that our students would develop a critical awareness of global issues and in doing so become active citizens and have a voice.
“Words cannot describe our shock and sadness at this time. Our thoughts are with his mum, dad, brother and family and his friends and colleagues.”
All lessons for pupils at the school have been cancelled on Monday, with students invited to light a candle in Mr Furlong’s memory at a nearby church instead.
One of his former pupils, Jade Sirmon, described Mr Furlong as a “really incredible teacher”.
She also described him as “funny and kind” and “always made history fun and entertaining”.
Keith Power, the father of a girl who attends the school, said: “He was a wonderful man. He was so helpful and supportive of my daughter.
“He had a real passion for history and teaching and was so caring of his pupils.
“It’s so senseless. So much hatred in the world right now. I fear for my kid’s futures.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also paid tribute to Mr Furlong.
He tweeted: “My thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and injured in Reading.
“Very sad to hear that a teacher, James Furlong, was among the victims.
“Tributes paid by his colleagues reflect how much he will be missed.”
Wokingham Labour also tweeted: “Devastated to discover that James Furlong, one of the victims of the Reading stabbings, was a teacher at the Holt.
“His loss is a devastating blow to his family, colleagues, students, the wider Holt family and our whole community.
“Our thoughts are with them all.”