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Wellington College - a parent's perspective

(29 Posts)
halvedfees Wed 22-Apr-15 15:12:39

Hi All,

I have been reading on and off a number of threads on Wellington College, where opinions - quite often snobby and rude - are given by people who have no connection with the school, but are formed by what they read in the press. So, here's my insider opinion.

I have 2 children at the school a DS just finishing and a DD in 4th form - both day pupils. Personally I am not privately educated, so I was always a bit dubious what £20-odd k in fees could bring. However I have to say that I have been mightily impressed, and don't regret it one bit. Obviously it is not perfect - what school is? - but overall my DS has loved it and my DD is loving it.

The Good

- academically it is rapidly climbing up the ladder. You can really see it at the school. Teaching is generally outstanding - History and English depts are amazing, according to my DS, but he managed to achieve straight (12) A*s at GCSE so all departments are strong.

- IB: my DS is just finishing it and has really enjoyed it. No pressure to do IB - out of 250 in each 6th form year about 70 do IB, the rest A levels. I think they push it to make sure that parents have really considered it as an option, and not just gone for A levels as a default position. Teaching across both exam systems is good

- Pastoral care is really good - the well-being lessons are genuinely useful.

- Sports - especially for boys

- Music - full orchestra, concert band, jazz orchestra, various ensembles all at a very high level.

- Drama - plenty of high quality productions in dedicated theatre

- Food - well at least what I've eaten is really good. Lots of choice.

- Beautiful and spacious grounds and buildings

- Seldon. I know he's retiring, but he has really grabbed what was a declining school and turned it completely round. Yes, I know some people don't like him, but have they ever met him? He can appear a bit distracted, but once you get to know him he really is a genuinely amazing man who puts the students first.

The could be improved

Athletics in the summer is a bit so-so, but cricket is good and there are other sports such as rock climbing, tennis etc.

Girls sport in the lower teams don't have enough fixtures - I think this is to do with the size of the school, but it still needs looking at.

Things beyond the school's control

- quite london-centric, but there are a lot of students who live locally, and as well as internationally

- although full boarding, my DS reckons 80% leave after Saturday sport - they do have a closed weekend every 6 weeks or so

Happy to answer questions if anyone has them!

vcharles Thu 23-Apr-15 10:08:35

Thank you!

halvedfees Thu 23-Apr-15 11:38:04

No problem smile Just wanted to give a hopefully fair review of what is genuinely a superb school to go to - without all the snobby anti-Seldon (he's full of bullshit, he's just a PR machine etc etc) reviews from people who have never had any experience of the school.

Forgot to mention that they, probably like lots of other public schools, have really excellent Master's lectures every couple of weeks given by some quite eminent speakers in their field.

As I said any questions just ask!

Stillsmilingin2015 Mon 27-Apr-15 00:12:43

Thank you very much halved fees for this thread.

We are considering wellington for our son in 2017...... Just waiting to hear if he will be offered an interview. My husband and I really liked the vibe of the school when we visited but our son wasn't overly impressed. I have to admit some buildings could do with updating (chemistry lab!!) but I assume the teaching is very good given the exam results.

People either love or hate Seldon but for us he would have left wellington. I wonder if the school will change much with the new head? That's a concern for us but I suppose that wherever we chose, there's no guarantee it will be the same head for the 5 years.

We just need to plug on and wait to see if we get an offer!

halvedfees Thu 30-Apr-15 16:17:04

The new head is coming from Caterham and coincidentally is best friends of one of my friends. Completely different to Seldon - very sporting and will get heavily involved with all the activities. I think his brief initially is to bed all the improvements in and make sure they are completely integrated and second-nature - there really has been so much change over the last 10 years!

I mentioned the tired looking labs to my son who said that he hadn't really noticed - it certainly doesn't stop them from carrying out loads of practicals! Teaching, as you say, is generally outstanding from all the science dept - no-one is expected to get less than an A at IGCSE - and well over 50% get A*s.
They use the "growth mindset" at Welly - everyone is capable of great things provided they put the effort in - search Carol Dweck for more info on thissmile

Hope this helps!

summerends Thu 30-Apr-15 18:08:33

halvedfees I know very little about Wellington but your choice of name and a potential association between it and your positive OP made me smile wink.

halvedfees Thu 30-Apr-15 18:37:15

No my name is due to the fact that I have just finished paying for my DS and only (!) have 3 years left for my DD - so halved fees!!

I am not a teacher or work there in any capacity (honest!) - I was just posting as I have been extremely pleased with the whole experience my children have received there. There are quite a few threads on MN where Wellington is slagged off without the posters actually having any experience of the school - they don't like Seldon - my post was to give an actual parents' perspective.

Here's what the Good Schools Guide says:


TheBankOfMum Fri 01-May-15 19:54:23

Thanks for your thread, halvedfees.

I, too, had dipped in and out of Mumsnet from time to time when considering senior schools for my DS over the years and noticed a number of posters leaving negative comments about Wellington College (WC) based on their dislike of Dr. Seldon. confused

My DS accepted a place at WC for Sept 2015, rejecting offers from 2 other very well known all boys public schools. WC, for him, offered the most inviting atmosphere. We both loved the mix of traditional values and innovative teaching – harkness & 8 aptitudes and the curriculum and super-curricular activities offered. And most of all, all staff and pupils we met at the college, throughout the interview and testing process, were absolutely wonderful; extremely welcoming, helpful and charming. The same can not be said of some of the other schools we visited who came over, altogether, 'up themselves'.

To win the accolades of Best Public School 2014 by Tatler, Most Forward-Thinking School in Britain 2014 by The Week and Most Improved School in Britain by The Sunday Times certainly does not give the impression that WC is a bad place for your child to continue their senior education.

As for Sir Anthony Seldon, I haven't met him myself but have heard him speak and watched and read several of his interviews and personally find him inspiring. One as well respected by his peers and as highly qualified and experienced in educational matters as he is, is certainly someone whose influence I would not mind rubbing off on my child. He has certainly done a remarkable job with Wellington College especially when it comes to the college’s academic standards. It’s a shame he won’t be Master when my DS joins this September but having spoken to current pupils and their parents who have genuine experience of the school, I'm confident that my DS will flourish at Wellington College. smile

thatmum50 Fri 01-May-15 20:31:06

Don't go wellington or have any connection to it, but what I do know is that they are effing good at rugby (even if scholarships are handed out at lower 6th). This year they had 3 England u18 internationals, 2 England u17 internationals, 1 England u16 international, and 1 Scotland international. So of ur son is a genuinely talented sports person (especially rugby) i recommend this school highly

gobbin Sat 02-May-15 18:43:28

I can give you an overview of the accommodation in four of the houses as we use Wellington as a base in the summer holidays. All had the same rock-hard uncomfortable beds with clean but weird-smelling laundry.

Talbot - nice set-up away from main building, own dining room, more modern, all rooms away from social areas so nice and quiet.
Hardinge - in main building, top floor roasting, pity anyone who has rooms below the common room as they will not get any sleep under the sprung mezzanine floor. You can hear a pin drop.
Picton - tatty compared to other houses we've stayed in, freezing even in August (windows didn't shut properly in either my or my mother's room and boys not allowed heaters or fans - poor buggers!) If I was paying Welly prices I wouldn't want my boy housed here.
Anglesey - lovely house, liked the set-up around the central social area, plenty of bath/shower rooms, modern - my favourite of the four.

We're going again this year and hope we get allocated Anglesey again.

summerends Sat 02-May-15 21:56:12

Halvedfees the link was only in my imagination.
Thatmum one of the few things I have heard about Wellington is that they actively seek out and offer attractive scholarships to proven rugby players. The school certainly places importance to their rugby reputation but may not necessarily be responsible for the development of all those capped players.

chat77 Tue 05-May-15 20:13:52

Thank you for the update. Really useful as my DD has been offered a place and is starting in 2016. We are also just waiting to hear about 2017 for my DS. If it helps the letter's last year (inviting your son or daughter to the interview day in September) were dated 8th May. Although I rang the school office last wk and they said mid-May we would hear.

halvedfees Wed 06-May-15 11:42:59

Had a Dads and daughters day on Saturday (am) - good fun, though I had forgotten how tiring school can be! Was impressed by the teaching - even Biology (which I hated at school) was really interesting - teacher managed to get everyone involved. Someone mentioned the labs being old - yes they look a lot like I used in the late 70s/early 80s - (wooden worktops, gas taps in the centre, sinks at the end of the benches) - but they were well-maintained and the rooms were really big and bright.

Even more pleased I picked Wellington smile

thatmum50 Thu 07-May-15 19:52:09

summerends agree and disagree.
They do actively recruit rugby players (3 of their internationals joining at L6) with hefty scholarships handed out, I know of a very talented rugby player who has been offered 120% (all school expenses as well as fees covered) scholarship to the school and is taking them up on it. However the set up they have over there is unbelievable, their first team pitch even has a stand. The players train like professionals, so by the time the scholars - who mostly come from state schools - leave they have been developed technically, mentally and physically more than they ever have, or would have been had they not gone to Welly. I personally think it is great what they are doing: offering an elite pathway to talented individuals who otherwise would not have been able access it. + they only play private schools on their circuit so its like an 100m when ALL the runners are on steroids.

Flum Tue 26-May-15 17:03:44

What a nice message to read, thanks for posting. I too am not from a a public school background but my husband is and is desperate to send our kids to a good public school. He is keen on Wellington as it is near family (we live overseas) and his Dad went there. I have agreed to it in theory if the money is in the bank... don't want to risk having to pull any of them out so he is busy working to that end as I am not allowed to work where we live so can't help.... ha ha, his dream, his effort!

Anyway, our first kid up has seen this school (along with Marlborough and Dauntsey which were my choices) and she loved it and really wants to go there. Big step for her as she is in a little International school here.

She has done the pre test and is going to an assessment day in September. She should do ok as she is strong academically and very mature. I hope for her sake she does get in as she wants it a lot and claims to be 'ready' to leave the rock and live on other side of world from us.

I, however, am not ready!! 2 more years with her anyway. :-)

Fluffcake Tue 26-May-15 22:48:56

Friend of DS is going on a rugby bursery for 6th form. He had his choice of schools but they really liked Wellington. Met some patents when ds's school hosted a rugby match. They were very pleasant. Unlike Tonbridge parents who couldn't believe a dodgy little state grammar could bet their boys at rugby!

halvedfees Thu 28-May-15 17:10:07

Speech day was on Saturday. It was opened with this video:

Don't think you'd catch too many Heads doing that! However it sums up the school for me - relaxed, doesn't take itself too seriously but gets the results and develops children into well-rounded individuals. Despite the fees, would make the same decision again!

Flum Fri 29-May-15 04:08:48

Ha, that is fun. Will show my dd that. Any house recommendations? She is pretty bright ( guess that is par for the course), not a girly girl, but no Tom boy, just matter of fact, interested in life and people and fun loving. Do the houses have different types or doesn't it really matter?

halvedfees Fri 29-May-15 11:24:48

All depends on the Housemistress at the time - Houses rise and fall in "coolness" depending on who's in charge. Combermere is regarded as the academic house, Orange is new with great facilities. At the moment Hopetoun seems the "in favour" house due the lovely French Housemistress. However things change over time, so I would ask again when house choice is imminent.

scientistmother Tue 06-Sep-16 09:34:58

thank you for this. I agree that Mumsnet can get snobby and negative at times and it is refreshing to read something that is so candid and helpful.

keepingcalmandcarryingon1 Wed 09-Nov-16 19:03:09

belatedly joining in...DS has done the pre-test today and am hoping he will be invited for assessment (school report suggests he is potential academic scholar so am optimistic). Can anyone shed light on what the assessment days entail? Although a solid academic contender DS is quite introverted - especially around unknown adults so any tips to help him know what to expect would be really useful.

Flum Tue 13-Dec-16 03:30:33

Well my daughter did the assessment day two years ago and hopefully my second daughter will do in January although she thinks Wellington looks a bit intimidating and fancies Bradfield or Dauntsey more.

The eldest said it was interesting but challenging. Can't remember much, she had said they but did say she loved it as felt she was among 'kids like her' has always felt a bit out of place as kind of you know, bookish.

Anyway they discussed NHS funding and as a group round a table had to rank different treatments in order of priority and discuss why. I thought it was a fascinating subject, as did DD as we and many of the kids there lived abroad so probably found the idea of the NHS Interesting in itself!

They must have done a lot of other things as it was a good half a day but that is the inky thing aI remember her mentioning.

Crumbs1 Sat 07-Jan-17 21:34:29

Wellington isnt intimidating at all. Ours loved every minute. We found it welcoming to families and ours have built lifelong friendships. The main difference from other schools is the all pervasive sense of fun. Wide games for the whole school,like 'Who's the Duke', singing twelve days of Christmas from open house windows at midnight on the last day of term, running covered in mud through Swan Lake, freezing cold early morning swims in the outdoor pool and crawling under chapel tunnels to etch your initials for ever.

Ifitssnowingimgoing Sat 11-Feb-17 01:48:56

Halvedfees did you find that your children felt 'left out' being day pupils? We are looking into it, but as neither my husband or I have been privately educated, we are a little concerned about the boarding aspect but think the school and it's ethos amazing. I was just wondering about your experience with this aspect of Wellington?

Flum Mon 20-Feb-17 18:35:37

We were shown round once by a day pupil. She seemed very happy with it. They can stay late so get included in everything. The new head girl is a day pupil. k think it is 80/20 in favour of boarding. About 80% of the boarders go home at weekends too. If you like the school and are lucky enough to live close enough to send kids as day pupils I think it would be a no brainer.

I woudlnt be sending my dd boarding if our situation didn't dictate it.

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