Wellington College

Logo of Wellington College

Pupils Info

Gender – Co-Ed School
Age range – Age 13-18
Number of pupils on roll – 1,045 Pupils


Average Class Size: 22
Boarding School
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 8%
Day: £24,330 – Boarding: £32,940
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 92%

Named after Britain’s most famous military commander, Wellington College has been the very model of British schooling for over 150 years. Located in a 400 acre estate, the college is surrounded by beautiful grounds; you’d be hard pushed to find another such a rural setting in close proximity to London. Founded to support children of deceased officers who had held commissions in the Army, Wellington has moved on and only a small minority at the school come from military families. Avant garde as ever, the school admitted its first girls into Sixth Form in the 1970s; in 2006 become fully coeducational. Wellington’s website lays claim to be “a fusion of originality, innovation and 150 years of tradition and history produces an education unlike any other”.

Background and Reputation

Amongst all the pomp and ceremony that goes with the most traditional of public schools, something bizarre has happened – namely the current ‘commander’ Dr Anthony Seldon. With his new outlook and cutting-edge approach, Wellington now finds itself as the ‘alternative’ choice. With a CV nearly as long as some of his pupils’ double-barrelled names, Dr. Seldon is anything but dull. Surprisingly hands on, the Headmaster has been attracting both praise and criticism from parents and pupils alike since taking control in 2006. Wellington broke ranks and adopted the IB Diploma Program alongside A Levels. Being the first independent school to introduce the Middle Years Programme as an alternative to GCSEs, the school is far from being stuck in the mud. Alongside these educational changes comes Anthony Seldon’s ‘Eight Aptitudes’ approach to teaching: linguistic, logical, cultural, physical, spiritual, moral, personal and social. According to their website this is, “Wellington’s way of ensuring that we pay attention to the many different types of intelligence evident in the children we are educating and encourages the staff to think across the aptitudes in order to develop the whole child.” Happy to look outside the British school system for new ideas, Wellington College is quickly becoming one of the most successful secondary educational places in the country. Indeed, the very model of a modern Major-General.

Academic and Exit Results

While the introduction of Well-Being and Happiness lessons might send prospective parents running (and perhaps the Iron Duke himself), Wellington’s academic results speak for themselves. It is no mere coincidence that Wellington’s advance up the league tables has been brisk since Dr Seldon’s arrival. He is determined to position Wellington as a ‘world class’ school, ‘world’ being the operative word. He has taken inspiration from top American high schools and has introduced a number of (arguably cringey) graduation and award giving ceremonies as well as a swanky new ‘E-learning centre’ that houses all the typical mod-cons and laughs in the face of the poor blackboard. Yankiphobes take heed. It is, however, clear that these Amercianisms are not deterring parents; pupil intake is soaring, hitting 1000 students in 2012 (up by over 300 from 2005). The pessimists amongst you might note however that this considerable rise in popularity coincided with Wellington becoming fully coeducational. His globalised approach to education is not limited to the ceremonial side of things or to the new-age learning; his enthusiasm for modern languages is verging on the obsessive, and by ‘modern’ we don’t mean French and Spanish. Seldon knows only too well that the sun rises in the East and his new, impressive ‘Modern Languages Institute’ sees pupils learning Mandarin, Cantonese and, would you believe it, Hebrew! Fear not, Classicists amongst you, Latin and Greek have not been forgotten. Seldon has every right to be proud of Wellington’s academic achievements – 2012’s A-level results saw 65 per cent of pupils getting A*s-As. If we are to throw one criticism at the reformative headmaster, whose zeal is reminiscent of Dr. Arnold’s, then it would be that he has not focussed as much of his attention as one would expect on providing SEN support. The well-known saying “you’re only as fast as your slowest team member” seems largely to have been ignored. “Not really somewhere for anyone who struggles to keep up”, warned a mother.

Social and Pastoral

As with so many other boarding schools, there are strong house identities. Structured vertically to ensure that friendships occur across the age groups, there is a real sense of “house community”. The majority of pastoral care is found within the houses; with housemasters and mistresses taking their responsibility of loco parentis very seriously, they are the first port of call for students with any worries. Day pupils are assigned a ‘day house’ so aren’t left out of enjoying the excitement of inter-house competitions. For those considering starting as a day pupil and possibly transitioning to boarding, there is the option of being assigned a boarding house (an extra £1000 per term) from the get-go. Not remotely lenient as far as drugs are concerned “and don’t we know it”, confirms pupil A.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

Accommodated in the vast grounds are very impressive sports facilities. It’s the normal story of a successful sporty school making a conscious effort to offer more than purely the ‘rugger field’ and this is evident in their chess, shooting and polo teams. Their weeklong summer ‘Arts Fest’ was a resounding success with displays of varied artistic mediums filling two spacious buildings. A school perhaps not as geared towards music as others, it still can boast a strong college orchestra, with an impressive number of pupils at grade 8 level. Drama is supported by a new and lavish theatre with the eccentric headmaster himself directing one play a year.


In line with expectations, the boys and girls are open to a wide range of options from day trips, guest speakers and there’s always room for the Airfix model club.

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