Boys Netball and Beyond

On Friday evening, in the Robin Dyer Centre, the inaugural Jimmy Higham charity netball match was held which pitted the U6th 1st XV boys against the U6th 1st VII girls. Over 200 Wellingtonians turned up to support this wonderful initiative with a further 300 listening to the live commentary on DukeBox Radio. The positive atmosphere, sense of community, and truly coeducational nature of the event was modern Wellington at its very best and reminded me, as if I needed reminding, how proud I am to be Master of this school. The U6th boys haven’t lost a home rugby match in five years at the College, so it was quite nice to see the girls get one over on them by running out 20-15 winners!

What pleased me most about Friday night was how many different constituencies of the Wellington Community came together to enjoy and celebrate the initiative – there were boys and girls from every year group, every House, there were staff and parents, mums and dads. It was an occasion which, I know, would have brought a large smile to the face of the man in whose memory the match was played and also the man after whom the sports centre is named, both of whom were deeply committed to developing coeducation at the College.

In many ways it encapsulated the ‘why’ behind our drive to full and equitable coeducation which I announced in my beginning of term letter last week. For those who missed it, in addition to the conversion of the Hardinge and Talbot Houses into girls’ communities, we intend to construct an 18th boarding House – a coeducational Sixth Form House weighted slightly in favour of girls – on the site of the Old Laundry. As a consequence, by September 2025, the Wellington College pupil body will be 50% boys and 50% girls compared to the 62% 38% split last year.

There are so many reasons behind the decision to put these final pieces in the coeducational jigsaw at Wellington. At the heart of it is a desire to create an educational community which truly reflects the world as it genuinely is. We want Wellingtonians to leave the College, not only with a fantastic set of examination results in their back pocket, but also with a developed understanding of what it means to live and work in a genuinely balanced and equitable society – and with the ambition and belief that they can achieve anything in life, regardless of their gender.

Last week, our Fifth Form and Upper Sixth pupils had academic assessment weeks, and I am pleased to report to the parents of children in those two year groups that they seem focussed, aware of what needs to be done, and determined to make the most of their last few months of lessons. I was talking to Mr Head on Friday and he compared this term to the Saturday in a four-day golf competition, often known as ‘moving day’. No golfer ever wins a tournament on the Saturday – that pleasure is reserved for the Sunday – but it is the day on which the major players will put themselves into contention. It seems that our examination year groups are keen to do exactly that and we wish them every success for the challenges which lie ahead.

In the meantime, spirits are currently being kept high by the prospect of Friday evening’s House Singing Competition, starting at 7.15pm. It will be available via live stream so do keep an eye on social media for the link, which was also sent out to you in The Week Ahead…

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