Wellington is in a class of its own

Wellington in Ayrshire with links to a number of international schools

Wellington in Ayrshire with links to a number of international schools

Share this article

For its size and situation on the attractive Ayrshire coast, Wellington School’s approach to internationalism is certainly impressive.

From their first day at the school, pupils become part of a family dating back to 1836 but it’s a family that has grown since then to include partner schools around the world in France, Germany, Spain and as far afield as India.


“Wellington is a relatively small school with a family feel and we attach an enormous importance to the quality of relationships,” says headmaster Simon Johnson. “In counterbalance to our family feel, something that is very much at the heart of Wellington life is internationalism.


“We hold International School status which is awarded by the British Council and we have outstanding partnerships with schools in other parts of the world.”


An exchange partnership with Germany started in 1990, when Wellington was still a girls’ boarding school.


Mallinckrodt-Gymnasium in Dortmund had recently become co-educational and Wellington families initially agreed to host some of the male pupils as well as the girls when they travelled to Ayr from Germany.


In 1994, Wellington opened its doors to boys up to S2 and after merging with Drumley House preparatory school in 1996, soon became fully co-educational.


“We also have strong relationships with a school in Spain and we have linked up with a school in Jaipur in India,” continues Johnson.


“We are a small school but we are very much outward looking.”


Wellington’s partnership with St Edmund’s in Jaipur encourages pupils and staff to work together on common themes and to learn about life in another country.


As well as taking part in exchanges with St Edmund’s, pupils have explored the themes of education, food and festivals.


“It would be easy for us in our location to be relatively provincial but our partnerships with schools around the world really does mean that pupils get to look well beyond their local area.”


It’s an area that’s hard to beat in terms of fresh sea air and coastal views. From the historic campus, the beach is easily accessible for the annual fun run which raises money for a chosen charity. The charity for 2016 was the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), for which the sixth year raised in excess of £35,000.


“There is a very strong sense of tradition here at Wellington,” says Johnson. “Pupils are very aware of our history and our historic buildings are a great asset. We have a wonderful location with views to Arran and the Clyde.”


When on home soil, Wellington pupils follow the Scottish curriculum. The SQA results for 2016 showed that S5 pupils excelled at Higher with 63 per cent of awards achieved at grade A and a pass rate of 93 per cent.


Last year also saw S6 pupils sit more Advanced Higher examinations than any year in the last decade and achieve the highest levels of success yet, with 66 per cent of awards achieved at grade A.


Outside the classroom, the core sports at Wellington are rugby and hockey, while music is particularly strong at the school.


Curricular and most co-curricular activities are covered by the fees, for which bursary provision is available.


“A large number of pupils study music in the curriculum and singing and instrumental lessons are extremely popular,” says Johnson.


“In recent years we have had fabulous performances of West Side Story and Chess.”


The school playing fields at Doonside allow children space to thrive and develop their talents in team sport, while individuals are supported to excel in swimming, athletics and equestrian.


“Independent schools always look to develop the whole child,” says Johnson. “Exam results and academic achievement matter but they are only a part of what education is about.


“A good education should enable pupils to have confidence in themselves, to have the confidence to take on challenges, to be flexible and adaptable in life, to be well prepared for adult life beyond school and to be able to relate to other people in a positive way.


“I would hope that children from our school feel able to take on the challenges that life is going to put in front of them


and that they will be a force for good wherever they find themselves.”

Wellington School is the only independent school in Ayrshire and prides itself on providing an excellent all-round education.


The school aims to create a friendly, orderly environment in which young people can develop and learn.


Teachers at Wellington care for the pupils and do all they can to ensure that the pupils also care for one another.


Fully co-educational since the mid 1990s, the school welcomes pupils from age three to 18, at any stage in their educational journey.


Whether pupils start in their infancy or in S5, they are guided towards adulthood in the nurturing and inspiring environment that is such an important facet of the Wellington experience.


Figures published in 2016 by the Scottish Council for Independent Schools place Wellington among the top 12 performing schools at Higher and in the top three at Advanced Higher.


Exam results (2016): 63 per cent of awards at Higher were achieved at grade A, with a pass rate of 93 per cent. 66 per cent of awards at Advanced Higher were achieved at grade A. In S4, the pass rate at National 5 was 96 per cent with 70 per cent of awards at grade A.

School founded: 1836


Number of pupils: 520


Age range: three to 18


Pupils: day, co-ed


Qualifications offered: National 5, Higher, Advanced Higher

This article appears in the SPRING 2017 edition of Vision Scotland. An online version can be read here. Further information about Vision Scotland here.

For more information on Wellingston School click here.

Back to the top of the page