Can it really be only three weeks ago that this new academic year started? So much has already happened here this term and it is a joy to see the place buzzing with activity; our new students already seem as if they have been here forever. What has particularly impressed me so far has been the strength of our student leadership in the classroom, on the pitches, in the choirs, ensembles and performance groups – and also, of course, in the Houses. It seems to me that it should be the aim of any good school to get to a point where the students themselves are able to inspire each other to get the very best out of themselves – and I see examples of this here at Wellington on a daily basis. But good leadership doesn’t just happen by magic; it has to be worked at and learned – or at least an environment can be created where young leaders are able to find the space to flourish and grow. This is why I am so proud that Wellington has set up its own Leadership Institute, which is already enabling young people from around the globe to develop themselves – and also why this last week our own College prefects, joined by four of their contemporaries from the Wellington Academy, spent several days of intensive leadership training in the Carpathian mountains.
Staying in log cabins in deepest Transylvania allowed them to get right away from College life and to think with clarity about the issues facing Wellington in the coming year. I was able to join them for some of their time there, and was deeply impressed with the seriousness with which they discussed the experiences they have already had as prefects, and how anxious they were to talk about the notion of 360 degree leadership and the way that organisations flourish best if everyone is invested in the success of the operation. They certainly appreciated the opportunity to have the time and space to formulate strategies, to share good practice – and to talk through some of the frustrations that are often involved in trying to organise and encourage occasionally reluctant young teenagers! I think they learned a lot about themselves too.
It was a really inspirational 48 hours for me, not just to see the prefects working so well and so maturely, but also for the opportunity it gave to develop our increasingly close and effective links with the quite remarkable Transylvania College, one of the finest and most unique schools in the world. I am full of hope that we can use this most successful trip as a template for future opportunities – and that we will see many, many more Wellingtonians (from across all age groups) experience outstanding leadership training in the compelling and transformational setting of Transylvania, fictional home of course to one of Wellington’s most celebrated former pupils, the actor Sir Christopher Lee.