Independent-State School Partnership

Wellington College has been working with local state schools on a regular basis since 2008 delivering a wide range of activities.

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We run a formal Independent/State School Partnership comprising 15 schools, which is largely funded by Wellington College. There is a nominal membership fee which allows the partner schools to take advantage of the full programme.

The key aim of the ISSP partnership is to raise aspirations amongst able pupils within the partnership schools. The intention is to raise pupils’ awareness of their own potential and to support ambitious university applications and the take-up of enrichment opportunities.

We work with many other schools locally, and as far away as Wales, on a more informal basis, particularly to support their sixth form students, inviting them to subject talks, university style lectures, conferences, sports, and music events.

The ISSP benefits all students by showing them a world totally different to their own. For the ISSP students it opens their eyes to a different educational environment. It gives them the opportunity to engage with other students from other schools. They get to explore subjects and topics beyond the standard curriculum which can help stretch their knowledge and understanding of the world. This shows them alternative perspectives and enhances future aspirations.

Pre-pandemic, we welcomed over 2,000 students per academic year to Wellington College participating in a variety of enrichment activities including subject specific days in STEM subjects, languages, sport and music. We run an Oxbridge support programme, as well as supporting personal development with workshops in revision skills, university applications and wellbeing.

In addition, students were invited to educational conferences on leadership, sport, environment/sustainability, and US college applications; as well as to the Wellington College university information fair.

When Lockdown 1 commenced we had to cancel the remainder of the ISSP programme of events that we had planned. This was a huge disappointment for the students, but we quickly put plans in place to try to support students at our partner schools online where we could. Students were invited to join Wellington College lectures, talks and enrichment opportunities.

In September 2020, we started to deliver our Oxbridge support programme online. All our usual events were successfully delivered in this format including an ‘Introduction to Oxbridge’ event attended by 280 students! We sent regular newsletters updating students of changes to the application/interview process as they were confirmed and we supported all Year 13 local students who applied to Oxbridge, arranging 75 online mock interviews with Wellington College teachers.

We were also very aware that students would have missed a lot of their schooling, particularly in the exam years, so we arranged to deliver a 2-week GCSE/A Level programme of online catch-up lessons in academic subjects.

We are looking forward to welcoming students back to Wellington College. The pandemic has made us deliver courses in different ways which has proved to be a positive learning experience. We are looking forward to continuing to deliver some elements of our programmes online in the future.

Wheeler Programme

The Wheeler Programme, established in 2017, is a fully funded educational programme designed to support state school students attending secondary schools. The underlying goal is not to be bound by artificial targets of, for example, successful entry to particular universities, but more simply, to unlock each student’s potential, and to enable them to become the best version of themselves by establishing a growing partnership between the student, their school, their families and Wellington College.

We focus on students who are underachieving at school, for a number of possible reasons, but who show academic curiosity. Each year we select a cohort of 20 students in Year 9, and support these students until they graduate in Year 13, with a bespoke programme of activities tailored to their individual needs.

Each year’s programme includes two study days at Wellington College and a residential stay.  The experience of boarding, staying away from home and being part of the Wellington community, even for a short time, is a key element of the personal growth embedded in the programme.

Through a mixture of group activities, visits to interesting workplaces, universities, organisations and people; talks, lectures, workshops and discussions; individual coaching, and tailored mentoring, each student is able to discover, develop and grow their own strengths, whether they be academic, personal, artistic, sporting or social.

The Wheeler Programme has shown a positive change in students – in their achievements, attitude, and confidence back in their own schools. It has enhanced their interest and engagement in their subjects and helped them make decisions for the future.

During the pandemic the usual residential courses were cancelled and replaced by a virtual 5-day course for all year groups. From September we shifted from study days to online study evenings so students could access the same programme after their school day. We responded to each group’s needs by delivering a bespoke programme for each cohort. During these sessions we delivered catch up classes for academic subjects, subject tutoring, 1:1 coaching and sessions on mental health and wellbeing. Some of the year 12 and 13 students also attended online careers events.

Last summer all Wellington students were given the book, Factfulness to read. As this coincided with our virtual summer course, we sent a copy to all the Wheeler students. Wellington Library then ran a virtual book club session for the students. The older students were also introduced to Wellyconnect and encouraged to sign up and use the resources it contains as they start to think about careers.

Our partnership work with the Wheeler students has proved to be so beneficial for many of them during the pandemic. Our students are selected on the basis that they have been identified as students who need extra support for many different reasons and during the pandemic this was even more apparent. Studying at home during lockdown, isolated from their classmates, we started to keep in touch with regular emails full of resources to aid online learning, helping them stay connected with someone who was ready to help or to listen. We provided support to the students and their families with advice and guidance on university applications, sixth form and A Level choices, IT problems and help, accessing their online sessions and much more.

We look forward to our first cohort graduating this year.

For more information or to make contact with Sue Parker about Wellington’s ISSP work, please email her at sxp@wellingtoncollege.org.uk.