Located in Crowthorne, Berkshire, Wellington College is clustered around a grand nineteenth century baroque estate on a 400 acre site some 30 miles from London.
Whilst academic league table performance is creditable (92% A* - B), Wellington has a genuinely different approach both to entrance and teaching through its 8 Aptitudes ethos which, rather than ask “how how intelligent is a child’, asks “In what ways is a child intelligent.”
A whole child approach is placed at the heart of the process, from selection through to graduation, and not all children at Wellington are hothouse academic.
Wellington also sets itself apart by being, like Gordonstoun, a member of the Round Square network of schools, committed to providing pupils with a much broader, extra-academic, whole child curriculum to encompass adventure, internationalism, democracy, service, environmentalism, and leadership.
It is also international in outlook, with two partner schools in China, membership of the G20 international schools group (which also includes Eton), and drawing 15% of students from overseas. Alumni include George Orwell, Peter Snow, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Rory Bremner, Will Young, Sebastian Faulks, and James Hunt.
Entrance to Wellington is oversubscribed (with three applicants for every place). At 13, entrance requires registration in Year 6 (£200), ISEB Common Pre-Test, and existing school Head’s reference (to which significant weight is attached).
Successful candidates are invited in Year 7 to one of six assessment days consisting of activities designed to “get to know the characters, strengths and personalities of each and every candidate during their day with us so we ensure a ‘whole child’ approach to the assessment process.”
“The admissions process is not simply based on narrow academic criteria but on a broad, Eight Aptitudes approach – the very philosophy which underpins the life of the College.”
Successful candidates are offered a conditional place subject to success (65% pass) in Common Entrance, Academic Scholarship, or College entrance examinations. Wellington even here will take the whole child into account in deciding whether to finally award a place, and concessions are made for differently gifted children.
Whilst Wellington is selective, there are mixed ability children at the school (it is not a Westminster or St Paul’s), and the school prides itself on tailoring education to the gifts of each child. Wellington is very successful with pupils across the board: “the excellent achievements by pupils with EAL and SEND, and the particularly able, reflects the success of Wellington’s individual learning plans and ethos.”
There are around 40 places available for entrance into the Sixth Form at 16, and children must be registered in September one year previously via online application. This is followed by an Eight Aptitudes based assessment day in November. UKiset testing is required for international students seeking a sixth form place when English is not their first language.
Wellington has “very generous” bursaries for pupils who have lost parents through acts of selfless bravery, whether from the Forces or otherwise. Outside this means test, bursaries are available offering up to 95% fee remission.
Wellington is in the top-5 of schools offering the International Baccalaureate, designed to offer “a balanced, international and socially engaged education for the whole person”, but traditional, more intensive, and focused A Levels are also offered according to the needs of the child. In 2016/17, 97 pupils chose to pursue the IB Diploma instead of A-Levels. Their average score was 39.1 points and, for the fourth year in a row, just under half the cohort (47 pupils in total) secured a score of 40+. Three students secured the full 45 points. At A Levels in 2015/16, the average qualification was AAA and, overall, 95% of grades achieved were A* - B. 80% of A Level students went on to their 1st choice university, although specific numbers leaving for Oxbridge are not published.
Non-academic provision was described by the ISS in 2015 as exceptional, particularly in the sport, creative, and performing arts. “Pupils value the genuinely equal emphasis placed by the school on success beyond the classroom.” Wellington’s sports complex incorporates a rackets court, five squash courts, an indoor pool, a large sports hall, and a “spectacular” sports pavilion, but activities beyond traditional sports are extensive, including scuba diving, debating, chess, fencing, and field gun.
Wellington College is a Christian foundation, though remains open to and respectful of children from all religious faiths.
Wellington College was rated Excellent in its most recently available ISI Educational Quality report (2014).
|Average score||Pass rate||Highest score||Top scorers||40 points plus|
In the 2021 IB results, 13 students scored a maximum 45 points, a new College record, and the average IB score was 41 points; 73% scored above 40 points, and 87% secured over 38 points.
Wellington should be (very) high on the list for parents seeking an innovative whole child boarding or day public school education for their children. It is radical, brims with integrity in its approach (from selection to graduation), and produces children that meet their abilities, wherever the school finds them. Children that graduate from Wellington Collage are “interesting” and able to think for themselves. It is telling that when the current Head asked pupils and teachers how they would describe what sort of people Wellingtonians become, they said that they are “kind, honest and courageous” and the head also added that “…they are also great fun to be with.” It’s also a great school for international students – the selection process is built not only on academics or the limited (and often unfair) ability to meet the common entrance curriculum and, given its size, in a competitive market, with a gifted child, there are greater odds of securing a place. Wellington College was voted Tatler’s School of the Year in 2014 – and for good reason.
• Whole child approach
• Round-Square / 8 Aptitudes
• International Baccalaureate
• May be too large a school for some children
• Grades fall (just) short of the hothouse schools
• International admissions/approach
• Nurturing gifted mixed ability children
• Whole child approach
• A single sex education
• An academic hot-house
• The best available Oxbridge slipstream
• Boarding number: 833 pupils
• Day number: 216
• Sixth Form: 484 pupils
• Number of full time teaching staff: 174
• 637 boys, 412 girls
• ISI Rating Boarding (2014): Excellent
• ISI Rating Academics (2014): Excellent
• ISI Rating Personal Development (2014): Excellent
• ISI Rating Leadership (2014): Excellent
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