Staying Alive…

Friday night’s House Singing competition was another resounding success and encapsulated so much of what I love about Wellington – real pride, camaraderie, gentle competition (!), but all done within an atmosphere of mutual support and respect. The theme – Headliners at Glastonbury – was an inspired choice and I can’t remember the overall quality across all 17 Houses being as strong as it was this year. Well done to everyone involved. I don’t know whether the Bee Gees ever performed at Glastonbury, but the title of this week’s Master’s Voice refers less to House Singing and more to a topic which, if truth be known, worries me more than any other as a Headmaster – drugs.

Our philosophy at Wellington is to balance crystal clear messaging about our zero tolerance approach towards highs of both a legal and illegal nature, whilst delivering an educational programme aimed at giving Wellingtonians the tools to navigate their teenage years with confidence as well as equipping them with strategies to help them make positive and healthy decisions when temptation is presented.

How do we do this? From a disciplinary perspective, we aim to be as open with pupils and parents as possible regarding our red-line issues. Those of you who attended our Year Ahead talks in September will remember our clear messaging on this topic and we ensure that we cover the same ground with pupils via year group assemblies, House Q&A visits and tutorials in Houses. We also continue to employ sniffer dogs on a termly basis to ensure that our boarding Houses are, as far as possible, free of narcotics.

Much of our educational programme is delivered through our Wellbeing curriculum with topics covering areas such as ‘Resisting Temptation’, ‘Judgement’ and ‘Curiosity’. The aim of these lessons is to shape Wellingtonians’ thinking and support them in positive decision-making. Alongside this, we deliver a series of talks in House-based groups from members of our Health Centre team. The topic of these talks varies to cover the changing landscape we see in front of us. To give one example, over the coming weeks a nurse will be visiting all Houses to talk about nitrous oxide. By using health professionals, we hope these workshops are credible and encourage open discussion.

There is, of course, also a place for the high impact talk. Last year, Steven Mervish visited the College to deliver a number of powerful workshops to pupils and parents. Later this term, Peter Hall, a recovering addict, will visit the College. Education is, of course, not just for the young and we are delighted to be hosting a conference for medical professionals in schools next weekend on the topic of ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

Another way in which we aim to promote a healthy lifestyle and positive mental health is through our upcoming Community Mental Health Awareness day on 8 February, and I do hope that as many of you as possible will want to support this new initiative at the College. The programme has been put together through collaboration between our wonderful Parental Mental Health Committee and our Pastoral Team at Wellington. The sheer number and variety of talks, workshops and sessions is breath-taking and we would encourage as many mothers and fathers to attend as possible. Experience has taught us that, although it is often female parents who attend these sorts of pastoral workshops, there is a real benefit for dads too.

You can read more and book a place on this free event via this link:

Our hope is that all these measures – clear messaging, red lines, education and support, which engage both pupils and parents – will enable our youngsters to make sensible life choices and allow them to grow up in the most positive way possible.

Back to all news