Good Schools, Governors, Giving, Gratitude and a Good Rest!

The Good Schools Guide remains one of the most prestigious reference works on UK independent schools. Many current parents will have read TGSG reviews of various schools considered for their children, and we certainly believed that the last review in 2017 summed up Wellington College perfectly – “Hard to imagine it done better. A site and campus to dream about. A school with mind, heart, guts and a constant fizz”.

New Heads are usually given one year’s grace before TGSG reviewers start thinking about an update; thanks to you-know-what and Lockdown 2, a visit during the second year of my Mastership proved impossible and so it was not until last Friday that we were able to welcome our latest visitor to meet the pupils and staff, contact some unsuspecting families for the parental perspective, and meet me and other members of the leadership team. We await the outcome with bated breath, but it was wonderful to discuss with our reviewer the various strategic discussions about the future which we have been having with the Governors over the past nine months.

On which note, last week also saw our first full Governors’ Meeting of the new year, where we welcomed two new Trustees to the Board and also discussed the next stage in our strategic plan. These discussions included advancement of the Old Laundry development which aims to replace the dilapidated buildings down Chapel Hill with a new home for the Raglan House, an 18th boarding House – coeducational and Sixth Form – for 70 Wellingtonians, and an energy centre with a ground source heat pump. This project is aimed squarely at delivering our strategic objective of creating a tolerant and inclusive coeducational environment where both day pupils and boarders feel equally welcomed and at home at the heart of College life. Moving Wellington to 50:50 gender balance was also one of the key objectives that I shared with Governors at the time of my appointment as Master. I will give further updates, particularly around a possible timeline, later in the year.

I hope it has not escaped your notice that widening access at the College and expanding our meaningful partnership work to improve and extend the reach our social impact work have also featured heavily in my vision for the future of Wellington. As well as using the lion’s share of our commercial income, particularly from our international schools, to help fund means-tested bursaries here in Crowthorne, provide educational grants, and resource our partnership work with our 29 partner state schools, we also continue to grow our Prince Albert Foundation (PAF), which offers scholarships to young people of potential from backgrounds of need so they too can enjoy the benefits of a Wellington Education.

The current year marks PAF’s 10th anniversary and, as mentioned in last week’s Master’s Voice, Giving Week, which started yesterday, has become a key part of our awareness raising and fundraising work for this important cause. I shared last week that we were aiming to raise £400,000 this year. As I sit here writing this blog, I can see that we are already on nearly £710,000…and we still have four days left! I cannot begin to express how grateful we are to the unprecedented levels of support which the Wellington Community has given this programme. Murray Lindo and I are genuinely speechless.

As well as Giving Week, the next five days also represent our first Arts Festival since 2019, culminating in Friday’s showcase concert featuring our Symphony Orchestra playing live for the first time in almost two years. I do hope that as many Wellingtonians and Wellington parents will get to as many events as possible this week and join us in this annual celebration of the performing arts at the College. And then, when Saturday does eventually arrive, I hope that every pupil manages to enjoy a thoroughly good rest – they certainly deserve it!

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