United Kingdom / South West England / Somerset / Wells Cathedral School

Wells Cathedral School Review

Wells Cathedral School is a co-ed boarding and day school that offers an all-round education alongside a specialist and varied music programme.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
No rating
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 16,000
Annual fees
GBP 8,310–20,442
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
0909
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Alastair Tighe
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Wells Cathedral School
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
No rating
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 16,000
Annual fees
GBP 8,310–20,442
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
0909
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Alastair Tighe
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Wells Cathedral School is a co-ed boarding and day school that offers an all-round education alongside a specialist and varied music programme.

One of four specialist music schools in the UK, Wells Cathedral School is a co-ed day and boarding school offering some of the very best training in music across a wide range of disciplines and instruments. Wells stands apart from some other music schools by having a large student community of non-specialist musicians; specialist musicians can receive a well-rounded education from academia to sports, drama and the creative arts, while non-musicians can benefit from the excellent music tuition on offer here.

One of the oldest schools in Europe, Wells was founded as a school for choristers. Since 1969 it has been a co-ed school for students from Little Wellies Nursery through to the Sixth Form; the total number of students is 710 across the Nursery, Junior and senior schools and about 50% of students in the Senior School are boarders. 

The school has a reputation for musical excellence and around 30% of Senior students here are enrolled into its specialist music programme; this covers a variety of disciplines from brass to popular music, choristers to woodwind. Leavers are offered places at leading music conservatoires and colleges including the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music.

It's a fee-paying school with annual tuition fees ranging from £9,711 in Year 1 to £20,442 (£34,212 for boarders) in Year 13, but bursaries are available through the Department for Education's Music & Dance Scheme (MDS).

Wells offers a flexible curriculum, allowing some students to take fewer GCSEs or A Levels than others. From Year 7, students in specialist ‘M’ (Music) forms follow a slightly reduced academic timetable to provide additional time for instrumental lessons and practice. For students in the mainstream curriculum, music remains an important part of their education; it is taught as part of an integrated arts programme that also coves art, drama and dance. 

There's a constant sound of music running through the corridors here, and lessons are complemented by over 250 performances each year, ranging from solo showcases and lunchtime concerts to symphony orchestra concerts. The school has some excellent facilities – students also have the opportunity to rehearse and perform in the glorious Wells Cathedral – and Alex Laing joins the school this year as the new Director of Music (he is currently Artistic Director (Music) at King’s High School and Warwick Prep).

Music is not everything about Wells, though. There's a well-rounded academic curriculum, as well as a varied sport, PE and outdoor education programme; there is also a specialist maths programme for gifted young mathematicians. Exam results are good, particularly when you consider that Wells is an academically non-selective school (students applying for a specialist music place must attend an audition). In 2021, 61% of GCSEs were graded 9-7 at GCSE and 61% of A Levels were A*-A; this was higher than in 2019 (the last year of exams), when 46% were 9-7 at GCSE and 36% were A*-A at A Level.

A full review will be posted shortly.

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