Wellington College Director of Admissions Ed Venables discusses its soon-to-open Sixth Form Centre and its approach to ensuring breadth of opportunities for its 16+ pupils

With a new Sixth Form Centre and Sixth Form House set to open in 2024, the co-ed facilities for 16-18-year-olds at Wellington College are going from strength to strength. New facilities are firmly focused around providing the independence and choice that pupils crave at this stage of their education.

Wellington welcomes around 50-60 new pupils into the lower sixth each year, taking the annual sixth-form cohort to 250. This includes at least 10 Prince Albert Foundation fully funded scholars and around 20-25 new international pupils. Both groups bring different viewpoints and perspectives to the school.

The new Sixth Form House and Sixth Form Centre is designed as an uplifting, sociable environment – more akin to the university experience – ensuring new and existing pupils integrate effectively. It includes a cafe and event spaces downstairs and a modern workspace upstairs, along with the careers, higher education, IB and Head of Sixth form offices. The new co-ed Sixth Form House will offer boarding places for 30 boys and 40 girls across the two sixth-form year groups.

Wellington College on sixth form independence
Wellington’s new Sixth Form Centre is designed to be uplifting and sociable – delivering the right balance at a crucial time in young people’s education

Pupils who join us at 16 can look forward to a smorgasbord of opportunities, both academically and on the co-curricular side. Wellington is distinctive in that it offers both A-levels and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, and with an exceptionally wide range of subject choices. (Notably, there is a 50/50 split among pupils taking A levels and the IB Diploma.)  Sixth formers are often able to decide finally what they will study when they arrive, and such is our flexibility that some pupils begin doing A levels before deciding to swap to the IB. 

At Wellington, our vision is to support pupils to become well-rounded global citizens, acquiring skills beyond exam results that future employers look for. We offer world-class sporting, music, arts and drama opportunities.  The College holds the Artsmark Platinum Award, houses a West End-standard theatre and offers over 600 music lessons each week.  There are 150 clubs and societies and over 25 different sports are played, with national and international success.

“The new Sixth Form House and Sixth Form Centre is designed as an uplifting, sociable environment – more akin to the university experience”

The choices academically and on the co-curricular side are wide ranging, and this really appeals to pupils at age 16. We find that new sixth form pupils throw themselves into many aspects of school life with great enthusiasm. Wellington also provides a pioneering wellbeing programme, and new arrivals often express surprise at how accessible and caring our staff are.

Another vital element of sixth form life is preparation for the next step. Wellington has a US university programme providing access to sports and means-tested scholarships, and each October there is the chance to visit US universities. In 2022/23, alongside 17 Oxbridge offers, Wellington pupils had 20 offers to top US universities – including Yale, UPenn Wharton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Stanford.  As pupils begin to shortlist potential future career paths, ‘Welly Connect’ provides LinkedIn-style networking opportunities with over 5,000 members made up of old Wellingtonians, peers and parents.

Having fun is vital to wellbeing at this age and there are plenty of opportunities to make memories, including the numerous trips offered to sixth formers. These range from exciting subject-based excursions to service-based travel to scuba diving trips.  Our aim at Wellington is to ensure that pupils leave us on a high after an exhilarating and rewarding two years, ready to embark on exciting futures and realise their full potential. 

Wellington College wellingtoncollege.org.uk

Further reading: Reed’s School on real pupil dialogue