The Power of Partnership

In Assembly last week, a representative from the Vineyard Church spoke to the College. Vineyard are one of Wellington’s community partners – we have dozens – with whom we work on various charitable projects. Every term, we host a soup lunch and donate the money saved to the Crowthorne Foodbank which is part of the nationwide Trussell Trust and which is run in our local area by Vineyard. Our speaker explained that not only does Wellington help house the Foodbank, and not only do some Wellingtonians work on the Foodbank as part of their Global Citizenship activities on Wednesday afternoons, but also that the funds which the College has been able to contribute have provided nearly one thousand food packages to vulnerable adults and children in and around the Crowthorne area who are living in food poverty.

Last week, the Independent Schools Council – the body which brings together and represents all the various associations of independent schools – also ran a #powerofpartnerships campaign designed to raise awareness of all the various partnership work with the state sector with which independent schools are involved. This marked the publishing of their annual report on independent/state school partnerships and I am pleased to say that Wellington College features twice in this document for our WCTSP and our partnership with SpringBoard.Those parents who follow me on Twitter will know that I featured many of our partnerships on social media last week and if you want to know more about WCTSP and SpringBoard, then please read on.

Maintaining and growing our partnership work is very important both to me personally and also to the College as an educational charity. Some would say that private schools, under threat from certain political parties who would like to see them abolished, should do more charitable work and give more to their partners because it is politically beneficial to do so. The more public benefit work we do as an independent school sector, they say, the less likely it is that we will be abolished. This is an argument I reject. Any independent school which pursues partnership and charitable work because they are motivated simply by maintaining their own privileged existence has got it seriously wrong. I believe that there is a moral duty for those who have the most, to do the most – to connect with broader communities, locally, nationally and internationally, to seek partnerships and opportunities to make significant differences in the lives of others. And we do this, not to perpetuate our own comfortable and privileged existence here at Wellington, but because it is simply the right thing to do.

The College pursues this agenda in many different ways, not least through our Global Citizenship programme on a Wednesday afternoon where, amongst other activities, Wellingtonians can volunteer in local primary schools, pay weekly visits to the elderly and the vulnerable in local care homes, or get involved in community action projects such as the Crowthorne Foodbank. When it comes to school-to-school partnership, we continue to support our state Academies in Wiltshire and will continue to do so in the future, as well as running extensive programmes via our Independent State School Partnership programme (ISSP) and the Wellington College Teaching Schools Partnership (WCTSP). Our ISSP links us with 14 local state schools and we organise a programme of events, activities and extension opportunities which now reach over 2000 local students every year, ranging from STEM days to helping with Oxbridge applications. The WCTSP is a partnership within which Wellington and 19 partner schools (many are also ISSP schools) work together to provide high quality, school-led training and development opportunities for educational staff and leaders in schools. If ISSPs are focussed on providing development opportunities for students, then the work of the WCTSP is focussed on providing development opportunities for teaching staff across both sectors.

This moral duty also extends to widening access to a Wellington education and the College is deeply committed to extending opportunities for young people, whose families would not ordinarily be able to afford the fees at Wellington, to come to school here. This year alone, over £2 million has been allocated to bursaries which offer fee reductions so that more children can access a Wellington education, and many of you know of the work which Mr Lindo and his team have been doing in raising awareness and also raising funds to support this. One of our charitable partners in this area – the Royal SpringBoard Foundation – marked the publishing of their impact report last week by holding an event in central London attended by HRH the Princess Royal. This educational charity works with local community partners to identify children from disadvantaged backgrounds who would benefit from the life-changing opportunities which boarding schools can provide. SpringBoard has now supported over 750 children through schools like Wellington and the impact which this has had on those individuals is remarkable.

As you are all aware, Wellington was founded as an educational charity to offer a free education to the orphaned sons of army officers, the original “sons of heroes” – heroum filii. This Foundation continues to this day and we will never stop exploring other ways in which we can develop partnerships and grow our charitable work to ensure that the College is at the vanguard in this area. And we will continue to do so because it is simply the right thing to do.

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