The Master’s Voice
This time last year I wrote “it seems incredible that another school year is coming to a close, and yet so much has happened here at College that last September already seems an age away” – and if that was true then it is certainly so now: this has indeed been an academic year full of endeavour and achievement. There is so much to look back on, and this Summer Term, blessed as it has been by wonderful weather, has been particularly special. College has seldom looked more beautiful, and has been the perfect backdrop as the boys and girls have gone about their busy lives, even if the warm mornings made Maniacs slightly less of a challenge than has sometimes been the case! While on the theme of challenge it would be wrong not to draw attention to the astonishing achievement of our Channel Swimmers last week. Our team of seven, made up of five Third Formers, one Fourth Former, and one member of staff, completed their crossing in 11 hours and 23 minutes – the 7th fastest crossing out of the 200 plus successful attempts over the last three years, that number including, of course, mainly adult teams. Many congratulations to them all.
And yet, even as the term draws to a close, I find myself looking forward to September with anticipation. Wellington College is a wonderful school, but there is still much for us to achieve: I would like to outline three areas I am keen to prioritise for next year. We have made significant strides with regard to the independent thinking, learning and coping skills we are trying so hard to equip our students with – but I do feel there is more to be done before we can confidently assert that all our pupils are genuine self-starters and problem solvers. Most schools talk about independent learning, but few really know what it actually looks like in the classroom, and how best to deliver it. I am convinced it (and I’m aware of the inherent irony in this) starts with brilliant and inspirational teaching and tutoring. As well as possessing outstanding subject knowledge, 95% of our academic staff have either taken the Foundation or Advanced Coaching Course, and are committed to helping their young charges thrive and grow. Tutoring, teaching and coaching will continue to be an absolute priority for our staff next year, and will begin afresh in September.
I am also keen to place even greater emphasis on the College values of Kindness, Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, and Courage, and in particular to ensure that our young Wellingtonians become increasingly aware of how best to model and frame their behaviour to incorporate these ideals. No act of kindness is ever wasted, and as well as all of the other positive things that Wellington is known for I would dearly love it to be known best of all as a kind school, as well as being one full of opportunity. It is perhaps with that in mind that another of our priorities is to develop our newly launched WOW campaign. As you may remember I talked about Widening Opportunity at Wellington on Speech Day: our hope is to be able to offer 25% of our pupils significant financial support over the next ten years, and by so doing ensure the Wellington student body is properly reflective of today’s dynamic and diverse society. It would be all too easy while enjoying all that is on offer here to turn a blind eye to the needs of the rest of the world, but that would not be in line with why Wellington College was originally founded – and why to me it has always been such a special place.
And as I listened to the wonderful tributes paid to our leavers at their Graduation Ceremony yesterday, and listened to their reminiscences (or at least the ones appropriate for a Master to hear) it was clear that Wellington has been a very special place for them too. They have been a wonderful year group and have led the school with distinction. I would like to end by thanking them for all they have done, and by wishing them the best of all fortune as they leave school behind and embark on the exciting journeys that surely await them.