"Since I was appointed Master, a key focus has been thinking about “what next?” What purpose and strategy should shape the future of the College to ensure that we develop stronger than ever?"James Dahl
James Dahl on the future of Wellington College
James Dahl on the future of Wellington College
Wellington College’s foundation was, of course, steeped in purpose: to be a living memorial to the 1st Duke; to serve our nation’s heroes by educating their orphaned children; and to offer a different kind of education to other schools. Our updated purpose of pioneering education to serve and help shape a better world therefore resonates as strongly today as it would have done in 1859.
But how to meet this purpose now? What areas of strategic focus will define the next decade of Wellington’s history?
Educational Excellence is central – it’s why parents and pupils choose Wellington in the first place: brilliant teaching, outstanding facilities & opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, superb care to support pupils on their journey to self in a safe and inclusive, yet challenging and aspirational environment; so they move on, not just with stellar results, but with the skills and character to thrive as adults.
Secondly, our commitment to Social Responsibility burns more brightly than ever, particularly in the post-Covid world: pupils and staff committed to serving others, thinking globally, and living sustainably, people who make their communities and the world a better place through service leadership, rooted in moral purpose. We must also honour the College’s foundation by continuing to broaden access and pursuing generous partnership with others.
Finally, that pioneering spirit of Educational Enterprise – to do things differently, to lead the debate, to be restless and curious – this must be woven through everything we do, from what and how we teach, to our other educational activities, such as the Festival of Education; our Independent/State School Partnerships; our Leadership and Coaching Institute; and our growing family of international schools.
These three complementary and overlapping pillars – Excellence in Education, Social Responsibility, and Educational Enterprise – provide the strategic foundations for our future.
Investing in people
Initiatives to deliver our strategy are already underway. Thanks to parental support, the gates to a Wellington education have opened to 25 Prince Albert scholars and our first Director of EDI and Social Responsibility has joined us. The Talbot has started its journey to become a girls’ House – enabling pupil gender balance to reach 50/50 by September 2025, the 50th anniversary of girls at the College.
Investing in facilities
Alongside this, we will expand and improve our resources for girls and mixed sports. This summer we will refurbish the Pink Pavilion to make it an inclusive space for all cricketers. It will be renamed the Potter Pavilion to recognise the remarkable contribution of the legendary Chris Potter and his family to Wellington over the past 90 years. Next year, we will build a dozen new tennis and netball courts on the old clay pigeon & Selassie courts site.
But these projects are the tip of an iceberg; we have formulated a campus development plan to support our new strategy and purpose.
To deliver an improved and more inclusive day boy experience, the Old Laundry site has been cleared and will see the construction of a new Raglan – a modern, central and fit-for-purpose home at the heart of the College will be opening in 2024. Next door will be an 18th boarding House – a pioneering coeducational Sixth Form House – creating a more integrated experience for our Sixth Form joiners, helping us achieve 50/50 gender balance by 2025.
The GWA is the jewel in the College’s Performing Arts crown. Given the number of boys and girls who pursue dance and drama, we will now invest in a rehearsal and teaching facility which reflects the quality of our dance shows & smaller productions. Over the coming years, we will therefore redevelop the Christopher Lee Theatre into a large, multi-purpose rehearsal & performance space for Dance and Drama, enabling all our Performing Arts Departments to coexist & collaborate more effectively than ever.
Beyond the Modern Languages Department we will construct a Sixth Form Centre – a three-storey building with cafeteria and social space on the ground floor, spilling out onto a new courtyard; on the first floor, pods for small group study and individual work space for up to 100 will give our Sixth Form somewhere to study beyond the library and their rooms; the first and second floors will bring together our Careers, Universities and Higher Education Departments, as well as office and meeting space for our Sixth Form and IB teams. This inclusive, multi-purpose facility, scheduled to open in 2024, will enable all Sixth Formers to meet, relax, work, receive support and plan for life beyond Wellington – all in one place.
To improve provision for all pupils, and staff and parents too, we will expand and improve the V&A, extending its footprint throughout its entire building. A significantly larger V&A, with multiple serveries, and space for the charity tuck shop too, will create at the heart of the College a larger and more inclusive facility for the entire community, ready to open in September 2023.
Investing in Research & Development
Furthermore, we are establishing Wellington’s very own educational research centre for teaching and learning, The Bridge: a bridge between educational research and classroom practice; a bridge to connect the College and our state school partners; a bridge between the UK and our international schools.
The Bridge will be our educational R&D department, supporting staff to become the very best teachers they can be so that Wellingtonians become the very best young minds they can be. Crucially, we will share the work of The Bridge widely and freely with our educational partners to support improved pupil outcomes across all schools and in all sectors.
Ben Evans, our Deputy Head Academic, has also started a curriculum review to ensure that what we teach in the lower and middle school is as intellectually stimulating, fit for the world of tomorrow, and as strong a preparation for A-Levels and the IB as can be.
Investing in well-being
Wellington was, of course, the first UK school to embed the teaching of Wellbeing within the academic curriculum; for the sake of our young people today, never has it been more important to pioneer once again in this space and to place the emotional and physical health of our community at the heart of everything we do.
To this end, we intend to build a holistic Wellbeing Centre, a home for every aspect of our proactive and reactive provision in both physical and mental health, with flexible spaces for mindfulness, yoga and other exercise classes, counselling suites, conditioning facilities, classrooms for Wellbeing and Physical Education, treatment rooms for our healthcare staff – doctors and nurses, physios and psychologists. In Jenny Griggs, we have already appointed our first Head of Student Emotional Health and Wellbeing and we will grow Jenny’s team to provide appropriate support of the highest quality to all our pupils.
This centre at the bottom of Turf will therefore bring together, in one ground-breaking facility, all our staff whose work supports the Wellbeing of the Wellington Community. We will be the only school in the UK to deliver such an integrated, holistic approach. We hope this ground-breaking facility will be ready for use within the next 3 to 4 years.
Investing in our future
This masterplan, designed to support our new purpose and strategy, and built on the legacy of those who have come before, will ensure that Wellington emerges from recent challenges stronger than ever and remains the most inspiring and interesting place in the country to live, work and learn.
'Exciting times lie ahead for the brilliant Wellington College.'Tatler