Nestled in Wiltshire, near the Salisbury Plain and Tidworth barracks, sits Wellington Academy, sponsored by its namesake Wellington College. The College is the only independent school to have shared its name with an academy, which is indicative of the quality education with which it wants to be associated.
The academy looks after the second-highest number of service families nationally, and its twin boarding houses are the largest of the country’s new state boarding facilities. As you might expect with its proximity to Salisbury Plain, the school has a purpose-built Army Cadet centre sponsored by 26 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers.
On the school’s website, Principal Mike Milner says: “Since opening, community confidence in the school has mushroomed because we have an uncompromising commitment to the education and care of every single student in the locality. The school is now the first choice for virtually every single family in year six at our five main feeder schools. The roll has increased from 550 to 1000, with sixth form numbers over 200 and former students now at university.”
The academy recently celebrated their best-ever GCSE results, with 50% of students achieving five GCSE grades of A*-C (including English and maths), up from 37% last year.
Mr Milner is delighted by the results: “We are making tremendous progress as a school and I am so pleased that the efforts of the students and the loyal and hardworking staff have been rewarded.
“The results represent a 35% improvement from when I started as Principal. We have successfully worked through a period of change and this summer is a turning point for us. We have had very low staff turnover this year for the first time since becoming an Academy, which is a clear endorsement for the direction we are going in and I know that we will continue to improve. The best is yet to come.”
Outgoing head of Wellington College, Sir Anthony Seldon, who was instrumental in setting the school up, was equally pleased. He said: “Following a truly impressive set of 6th Form results last week, this is a great day for the community and Wellington College warmly congratulate all of the staff and students and are pleased to be able to share in the success.
“The sponsorship attracted much support but some critics who appeared reluctant to see us succeed, as we are now doing convincingly. It was always going to take us time to turn the school around. We do not have, like some academies, a pool of highly able talent to draw from. The community in rural Wiltshire from which our students come has not had a history of high academic success. That is precisely what we are now bringing. We have a superb team in place under Dr Milner and I am very confident the results will continue upwards till the potential for all is reached. I would encourage more independent schools to sponsor academies or start free schools, following the lead of schools like Canford and Eton. We are committed to changing lives in the community and we are clear that this will be achieved by hard work and good discipline leading to academic achievement. Today shows that we have been following the right path since 2013.”