Wellington College is the proud sponsor of The Wellington Academy Wiltshire.
Thanks to the generous donation of £2 million by a parent and governor of the College and huge investment by the government, a failing school in Ludgershall was able to transform itself! The Academy opened its doors in 2009 on the site of Castledown School, while on adjacent land in rural Wiltshire an iconic, state-of-the-art new building was being constructed. The students watched this pile of concrete, wood, glass and steel morph into the beacon that it is today.
The whole community is benefiting from this hub of learning which includes a 300-seat theatre and a dedicated Business and Enterprise suite. The students and teachers moved next door in spring 2011 and the Wellington Academy took an even greater leap forward in its mission to change lives.
The Academy swiftly became the highest performing state secondary in Wiltshire. Since the initial rise in achievement, continued improvement has proved a challenge.
This year Academy students gained 93% 5 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, 85% 8 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, with 37% achieving 5A*-C including English and Maths.
In August 2013, Dr Mike Milner, formerly the Academic Deputy at Wellington College, was made Principal. At the same time, Dr Anthony Seldon became Executive Head and the Academy continues to strive in its quest to help all students reach their full potential.
Dozens of Academy 6th Form students who graduated this year took up their university places in autumn. Some of these students were the first in their family to go on to higher education. Another distinctive feature of the Academy is its twin boarding houses for 100 students.
The Academy stands opposite Tidworth garrison and nearly half of the students are from service families: there is a cadet section on site.
An academy is a school that is directly funded by central government (the Department for Education) and is independent of the direct control by local government (though the latter is responsible for funding formulae used to allocate funds to it). An academy may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors, either financially or in kind. Academies must meet the National Curriculum core subject requirements and are subject to inspection by Ofsted. Academies are self-governing.
The Wellington Academy was set up under the Labour government when the emphasis was on transforming failing schools. A sponsor needed to be found who would provide £2 million (a parent and governor of Wellington College kindly donated this) and the government then allocated £30 million more and the money was to be spent on new buildings, thus creating a regenerated, rejuvenated environment, fit for the 21st century!
Numerous activities and events are organised by and for staff and students. These take place throughout the year. Some have an academic focus (for example staff Inset, Maths workshops, creative writing, debating) while others are based on sports and the arts, leadership or joint fun for boarders!
Among the activities that have taken place this term are a Year 11 Collaborative Learning Day, the Year 9 launch of The Grubby Run (a joint charity event culminating in June), 6th Form university and careers talks, Remembrance Day commemoration, netball Inset and a student leadership course. Events coming up include the Creative Writing trip to Wales, football fixtures, two further study days for Year 11 and much, much more!
Students gain by collaborating with their peers from a wider social background. They learn to be flexible, welcoming and empathetic and open-minded. There are some subjects and activities that we do not offer here at College that thrive at the Academy.
For example, a group of Lower 6th Formers spent Wednesday afternoons last year learning how to deliver live radio as the Academy has its own radio station on site. Several of our staff have completed their Graduate Training Programme at the Academy. It is a requirement of the qualification that some teaching practice takes place in a state secondary school and College teachers have learnt valuable skills thanks to our colleagues at the Academy.
The Academy does not yet have a long experience of teaching A level or delivering boarding. These are areas in which our expertise may be of use. Teachers from both schools benefit from professional dialogue on our core business: teaching and learning. Joint Inset is possible and many Academy staff have attended events like the Ed Fest. Our extra-curricular programme is very wide and there is usually someone on the staff who could help advise on setting up a new activity at the Academy.
Cressida Henderson is the person you need! She is Assistant Headteacher (Academies) at the College and works one day a week at the Academy. She is responsible for setting up activities and events and keeping close liaison with the Academy.