The Wellington Brand celebrates


Wellington College took over the Albert Hall on 30 April and managed to fill it, (5,000 capacity)  in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the school.

The audience at  the  themed gala  was made of pupils, parents, staff and alumni of the family of Wellington schools (Eagle House Prep, Wellington College, Wellington Academy and Wellington Tianjin). The main school, Wellington College, now has over 1,000 pupils.  The gala charted the schools development through the different eras,  brought to life through music, singing, dance, readings, film and  drama. One of the star performers was a four year old Chinese girl pianist from Wellington, Tiangin.  Other participants included Old Wellingtonian celebrities such as Will Young, Sebastian Faulks and Rory Bremner.

Wellington is more than a school now, it’s a brand.

The brand has plans to open a new school in Shanghai in two or three year’s time. This month it announced its plan to create a group of Academy schools in the English state sector. The aim of this development will ‘be fundamentally to alter and improve the still distant relationship between the independent and state sectors in Britain.’  The Master,  Dr Anthony Seldon, said “Wellington is already recognised as one of the UK’s most innovative schools, with the aim to become the leading co-educational secondary school in the country. But our mission goes beyond the grounds of the College – we believe our approach to education and the values we embody should be used to benefit many, many more young people and breach a divide that has been so debilitating to education and society in the 20th century. Our goal is to create a group of Academy and international schools with Wellington College at its heart and its inspiration, bound together by our unique ethos of very high academic achievement combined with holistic education. That’s why we built the Wellington Academy in Wiltshire (the first British private school to wholly sponsor a named academy) three years ago, and we now seek to realize a lifetime’s ambition to bridge the gap between the state and independent sectors. Governments believe you can have either academic standards or holistic education – we say you can have both, and our results prove it.”

James O’Shaughnessy, former head of policy for David Cameron between 2007 and 2011 in opposition and at Number 10, (and formerly with the centre-right Think Tank Policy Exchange) has been hired by Wellington College to use his expertise in education to explore the feasibility of expanding its success with sponsoring an academy to more schools. He has already started work on the project and his political contacts at the heart of government will help. O’Shaughnessy, a former pupil at the school, is a proponent of the Prime Minister’s “happiness index”, (influenced by Seldon)a measure of the nation’s well-being levels .He told the Sunday Telegraph recently that the private school’s brand of education could benefit thousands of children in up to a dozen new academies in the next five years. “I was initially very sceptical about the happiness and wellbeing stuff,”  he told the paper, “But at Number 10 we did a lot of work on it and I came to believe that there was a science to it and that it wasn’t just airy-fairy wishful thinking. “The field of positive psychology has demonstrable, scientifically tested benefits to people’s mental health. It helps people to lead better lives. It doesn’t mean that money or jobs or other traditional things don’t matter but we all have a sense that there is more to life than that. We want to encapsulate that in an education context.”

In March 2012 inspectors rated its teaching and learning provision ‘excellent’ in all the areas they were judging. There are now six pupils going for each place on offer  at Wellington and its rise up the academic league tables (so it’s on a par with the likes of,  for example, Marlborough, and Rugby) seems   to have been at  no cost to its traditional   prowess in sport.  It won back to back Rosslyn Park Schools 7 a side rugby tournaments this, and last year, and its golfers also won this year’s Independent Schools National Golf Finals, in Carnoustie, Scotland.

The Albert Hall celebration also  served to showcase the schools’ growing strength in depth in music, drama and the arts. It does seem that Wellington is on a roll at the moment.  Seldon  looks likely to stay in place until, at least ,the celebration of the Battle  Waterloos 200th anniversary in 2015 (Seldon is an Historian, remember –dates/anniversaries  matter) and his high media profile keeps Wellington in the public eye, much to  the obvious irritation, it has to said , of his schools competitors.  Wellington is to host,  this  June, the Sunday Times Festival of Education


Note 1

Wellington College believes that its bespoke co-educational model of education, which embraces the International Baccalaureate (The Middle Years Programme sometimes called the junior IB is an option too) and combines high academic attainment with character and all-round education, based on its unique model of ‘Eight Aptitudes’ and well-being (or teaching of happiness), sets a clear benchmark and helps  differentiate its group of schools and   its distinctive education offer from competitors.

Note 2

Dr Seldon has called on the various independent sector umbrella bodies, such as the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools and the National Grammar Schools Association, to form units to help schools set up and run academies.  Such units would advise schools on the legal, administrative, HR and other back-office work that is required. He believes  forging  substantive partnerships between state and independent schools brings mutual benefits..

Note 3

The Eight Aptitudes

Aptitude Descriptor
Linguistic Words and language, written and spoken; retention, interpretation and explanation of ideas and information via language; understanding relationship between communication and meaning; ability in English, languages and the humanities
Logical Logical thinking, detecting patterns, scientific reasoning and deduction; analysing problems, performing mathematical calculations, understanding the relationship between cause and effect
Cultural Artistic ability and awareness, appreciation and use of sound and vision; appreciation of music, art and dramatic skill
Physical Body movement control, manual dexterity, physical agility and balance; eye and body coordination; sporting and dance prowess
Spiritual Awareness and appreciation of one’s place in the world; thinking and awareness beyond materialism and the self
Moral Awareness of personal responsibility, of right and wrong and steering clear of the wrong; openness and honesty with those around you; having firm principles and sticking to them
Personal Self-awareness, knowing yourself, personal objectivity; knowing of your own need for, and reaction to change
Social Perception of other people’s feelings; ability to relate to others; getting on with others; including others

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