Headmaster's Blog

Headmaster's Blog

Proud Of The Commitment of Players And Dedication Of Coaches
Last night saw Year 11 and Sixth Form hockey and rugby players, together with their parents and coaches, gathering for a sports award dinner at the Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton. Team and individual awards were presented, coaches and captains made speeches, and effort and achievements acknowledged and celebrated. It was a wonderful occasion.
Walking around the school on a Saturday and watching our teams in action on fields and the astro is a highlight of my week. I feel very proud of the commitment of our players and the dedication of our coaches, and we all appreciate the constructive and fair-minded support of all the parents and wider family on the touchline. It is also always lovely to see how well prepared our sports facilities are for the weekend’s activities, and we are all grateful to our excellent Grounds Team for all the work they do.
What is very plain to see every Saturday is how much everyone gives of themselves as they represent the School, coach our players and support our teams. Come rain or shine, so many people give so much of themselves to fly the flag for Wellington School, and it is such a lovely and special feature of how we do things at Wellington. Long may it last.
There are two more weekends of fixtures to go, and I look forward to walking around the school a few more times before the season draws to an end. Well done, everyone, on everything you have achieved to this point. Your efforts, commitment and enthusiasm are wonderful to see, and your achievements are testament to your talent and hard work.


Taking Advantage Of Exciting Opportunities
Conferences can sometimes be somewhat anticlimactic. Much can be made of ‘inspirational guest speakers’ or ‘wonderful networking opportunities’, but there are times when neither really transpire. Fortunately, the two conferences I attended this week did not fall into this category.
‘AI In Education: Cut Through the Noise’ saw Governors, school leaders and leaders in digital strategy gathering at Epsom College to consider how artificial intelligence might impact the education landscape. Very impressive speakers shared their views, and delegates were then able to attend breakout sessions in which practical applications of artificial intelligence were shared. The sessions I attended – the first on how AI can support using data more effectively to enhance school management and the second on how AI can support pupils’ learning in and outside the classroom – were both interesting and helpful. The use of generative AI in schools is still in its infancy and, to coin a phrase used quite frequently by a variety of speakers on the day, ‘we are still navigating without a map’. However, what I saw left me feeling optimistic and the work we are doing at Wellington on how to best harness AI continues.
The ‘AGBIS / HMC / ISBA Heads’ Governors’ and Bursars’ Conference’ was held in central London and covered topics ranging from ‘School leadership and governance: Where we are now?’ to ‘Overview of the current political and economic headwinds’. Again, breakout sessions provided delegates with the opportunity to learn more about very practical whole-school matters. I attended sessions on sustainability and risk management. Other sessions included, for example, a closer examination of mergers and acquisitions cross the independent school sector and international opportunities.
The trip back to Wellington last night gave me time to reflect on all that I had heard, and to consider how best to work with Governors and senior leaders to ensure that our school is well placed to face future challenge confidently and to also take advantage of exciting opportunities.


Celebrating Our Shared Humanity
Last weekend saw Diwali being celebrated – a festival of lights, which symbolises the victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and light over dark. It is India’s most important festival of the year. While it was not directly linked to Diwali, our Year 9 pupils enjoyed a ‘Bhangra Bash’ on Wednesday evening. It was a wonderfully joyful and fun event, which saw pupils wearing beautiful outfits, and an instructor helping them learn some impressive dance moves. There was so much energy and enthusiasm in the room, and kids and colleagues had great fun.
We are so fortunate to welcome pupils to Wellington from nearly 40 countries around the world. Our international community brings such richness and diversity to Wellington, and it is a delight to see how pupils from all over the world forming friendships and working together.
Highlighting differences can have devastating consequences. While I believe that we must recognise and respect what makes individuals and cultures distinct, focusing excessively on our differences can be a recipe for disaster. I argue that there is always so much more that binds us, that our shared hopes and aspirations can unite us. Focusing on what brings us together sees us able to celebrate our shared humanity, and that can only see us being stronger and more successful.


Understanding The Perspectives And Needs Of Others
We would all hope that the awful tragedies witnessed during WWI and WWII would see every politician and leader around world doing absolutely everything in their power to avoid war, and the awful loss associated with it. Sadly, we see at the moment terrible conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East and Winston Churchill’s wise words seem to speak the truth: “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”Multi-tasking is a skill which we all need to learn in life. But I would suggest that there is one instance when we cannot multitask, when our brains are not able to do two things effectively at the same time. I do not believe that we can speak and listen well at the same time.It seems to me that there is currently a lot of people speaking at one another in the world. In some places, they seem to be shouting, indeed raging, at one another. Fingers seem to be pressed forcefully on the figurative ‘transmit’ button, and there is no desire or willingness to listen to the voice of others. The consequences of speaking at one another, shouting at one another, raging at one another – instead of listening and seeking to understand one other – are seldom edifying or constructive, and can be absolutely tragic.  This weekend’s Remembrance Service reminds us all of the importance of listening to others, of being empathetic and sensitive to those around us. We have two ears, two eyes but only one mouth. There is something to be said for taking our finger off the ‘transmit button’ and directing our efforts to listening and observing, to seeking to better understand those around us. It is not always easy.  In his book ‘The Audacity of Hope’, Barack Obama wrote “Lincoln, and those buried at Gettysburg, remind us that we should pursue our own absolute truths only if we acknowledge that there may be a terrible price to pay.” Perhaps the world needs leaders who are a little less certain about ‘their own absolute truth’, and a little more willing and able to understand the perspectives and needs of others.


Half Term Break - An Opportunity To 'Top Up Our Tank'
The end of the first half of term has arrived. As expected, it has been a wonderfully busy and productive six weeks and there is so much we can celebrate and feel proud of. Getting to this point has taken a lot of effort – from parents, colleagues and, of course, our pupils.
Wellington is a busy school. Our pupils can get involved in a wide variety of activities, and it is this wide range of opportunities which helps us provide a holistic opportunity. We place a premium on supporting pupils as they grow and develop both in and outside the classroom.
While it is good to be busy, it is very important that we also remember the value of sometimes doing nothing. Taking time to ‘stop’ and to be consciously idle is, I would argue, a vital component of success. Looking after oneself and giving ourselves the opportunity to ‘top up our tank’ sees us able to stick at things when the going gets tough.
I enjoyed a pastry and fruit juice this morning with a Year 7 tutor group, and it was lovely to hear how they felt the past half-term had gone. There was so much positive feedback, and some of the words used included ‘amazing’ and ‘fun’ – which is certainly what we like to hear. Other words included ‘busy’ and ‘loaded’. When asked how they felt at that moment, most pupils replied ‘tired’. I ended our time together by congratulating everyone on making such a positive start to Year 7 and encouraging them to rest well over their break.
Our children have energy levels which, if harnessed, would solve all our global energy crises in one fell swoop. However, as energetic as they are, even children get tired, and my observation is that our pupils need a good rest over this coming break. Sometimes being deliberately lazy is just what’s needed to recharge the batteries.


Old Wellingtonian's Key Role
I am currently in Hong Kong, where Head of Admissions, Rachel Debenham, and I are representing Wellington at an admissions fair, meeting parents, speaking with international agents and hosting a lunch for Old Wellingtonians.  The scenery is certainly very different to Somerset!
In seeking to ensure strategic consistency in our operational decision-making, Governors and senior leaders have worked together to agree on the School’s strategic priorities. A picture can speak a thousand words, and our work generated what we call our ‘North Star’ – a conceptual framework illustrating those priorities against which we ‘set our sail’. You can see our ‘North Star’ by following this link: www.wellington-school.org.uk/senior/school-life/our-vision
‘Community’ is central to Wellington’s educational philosophy. Whether it be within our immediate school community, the community beyond our gates or with alumni across the world, Wellington places a premium on building positive relationships with everyone in the extended Wellington family.
Last week saw alumni gathering from near and far for the annual London Lunch – one Old Wellingtonian flew from Canada to attend. The lunch itself was held at the RAF Club and the day extended into the evening as Old Wellingtonians came together for drinks at the Iron Duke in Mayfair. Rachel and I are dining with almost 40 Old Wellingtonians this Sunday, and we then look forward to seeing more former pupils at the November Reunion. These events are such happy occasions, and it is always lovely to see good friends taking meandering strolls down memory lane together. They also provide me with a valuable opportunity to update alumni on school developments.
Old Wellingtonians play such an important role in the success of our school and we so appreciate all the support they offer the School.  Be it through providing funds for bursaries, speaking at school societies, offering work experience and networking opportunities or supporting capital projects, Old Wellingtonians play a crucial role in making sure that Wellington School keeps moving forward with confidence and a strong sense of purpose.

World Teachers' Day
Yesterday was ‘World Teachers’ Day’, a day when the work of teachers around the globe is acknowledged and celebrated. I spoke about the day at assembly on Monday and asked all our pupils to make a point of thanking their teachers for their hard work and dedication at some point this past week. 
By inspiring, encouraging, challenging and supporting, teachers are in a position that sees them able to make a lasting and transformative difference to the lives of their pupils. We are incredibly fortunate to have a team of teachers at Wellington School who go the extra mile in helping our pupils learn, grow and have fun. Our teachers work hard in and outside the classroom. They have supported pupils in lessons, EPQ research projects are underway and UCAS applications are being completed. In addition, teachers have been on a camping trip to Wimbleball Lake and to the top of Snowdonia with Year 7 and Year 9 pupils respectively, prepared teams for a raft of sports fixtures, directed drama productions, rehearsed choral performances, arranged interhouse competitions, helped cadets with their uniform and supported boarders as they have settled into houses – and I could go on! 
We are able to recruit excellent teachers to Wellington when we need to. We offer a good package and, as importantly, Wellington is a lovely place to work. However, recruitment across the United Kingdom is below where it needs to be – and teacher recruitment is a global challenge. As a society, we need to ask why that is and our considerations need to include everything from remuneration to working conditions and morale. 
Every Monday morning staff gather in the Dining Hall for ‘Briefing’ and I take this opportunity to thank colleagues for specific effort and achievement over the past week. We obviously also thank one another in passing as a matter of course. A word of thanks goes such a long way, and a sincere ‘thank you’ from pupils and parents means the world to teachers. Whether after a trip, performance, match or lesson, a heartfelt acknowledgement of the care and effort which a teacher has put into supporting a pupil makes such a difference to how teachers feel about their job. 
We all know that a school relies on teaching and support staff to thrive, and that Wellington’s team of support staff do a brilliant job. I do not think that there is a ‘World Support Staff Day’ (although there should be), but we will set aside a specific day next term to celebrate our team of support staff and show our thanks for everything they do to support Wellington School.

School And Parents Working Together
The Senior School is hosting an online ‘town hall’ meeting for parents. These forums started during lockdown, when they were a helpful way in which to share updates, get feedback and deepen understanding of concerns or queries. They proved to be popular and helpful, so we have kept going. For those of you who haven’t attended one, I chair the meetings and senior leaders give brief updates on various aspects of school life e.g. academic, pastoral, co-curricular, campus and food, with general discussion and Q&A throughout.
There is an important principle behind these meetings: our children’s education benefits immeasurably when school and parents work effectively together. That working relationship takes effort. It is important that senior leaders understand parents’ concerns and frustrations, and that parents also have the opportunity to offer positive feedback and make constructive suggestions. Similarly, misperceptions can be addressed by staff if needed and explanations offered as to why certain actions or decisions were taken. It is in open and honest discussion that mutual understanding is strengthened. 
Wellington continues to be alive with activity and enthusiasm. Classrooms are full of purpose and hard work, Extended Projects are being researched and UCAS applications are being completed. ‘Matilda’ was phenomenal, our CCF are off on their field trip today and sports fixtures are in full flow. House events are underway (interhouse ‘street art’ was a highlight of the week!), tutors are supporting their tutor pupils and boarders have settled in. There is plenty of endeavour, ambition and cheerful chatter around the place. Just as it should be!


Building Outstanding Relationships
Last year saw senior leaders gathering for a strategy and planning day. We do this routinely so that we don’t get lost in the day-to-day detail of running a busy school. One of the exercises we undertook was to complete a stakeholder analysis, where we considered lines of accountability and collaboration. It was interesting to reflect on how wide a frontier Wellington operates across and how many stakeholders we interface with.
Our wonderful pupils are obviously at the heart of everything we do, but nothing would happen at Wellington without our dedicated team of staff, and the support of parents is fundamental to success. An effective partnership between pupils, staff and parents is central to successful day-to-day life at Wellington School.  
Then we have Governors; volunteers who freely give of their time and expertise to support the School and who carry significant responsibility in doing so. Our parent association – we call them the Friends of Wellington School – organise events, raise funds and create opportunities for new friendships to be formed. Our Foundation plays a crucial role in supporting bursarial provision, and our Trading Company is central to the successful management of external commercial activity.
Old Wellingtonians speak at events, present to school societies, offer careers advice and have provided generous financial support to our bursarial and capital expenditure campaigns. Our relationship with the town of Wellington is hugely important to us, and we will always seek to support the wider community.
We then have the Department for Education, the Home Office, the Health and Safety Executive, the Food Standards Agency, the Ministry of Defence and the Independent Schools Inspectorate all create a regulatory and statutory framework within which we must work and impose standards against which we are inspected.
So, a wide range of stakeholders and multiple lines of collaboration and accountability. The premium we place on building outstanding relationships will stand us in good stead as we work together to take Wellington forward, but there are bound to differences of opinion along the way.  What counts is that we support one another in realising our vision of providing a life-changing, pupil-centred, values-led education for engaged and ambitious young people who wish to contribute to the School and the wider community.
Wellington's Core Values
You may have heard in the news today of the recently published World Values Survey Report. The survey is part of an international research programme devoted ‘to the study of people’s social, political, economic and cultural values around the world.’  The findings highlighted in the report are fascinating and you can access a summary of how the UK performs relative to other countries, and how social values in the UK have changed over time by following this link: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/policy-institute/assets/parenting-priorities.pdf 
It is interesting to observe how attitudes towards the key qualities the children should be encouraged to learn at home have changed or remained constant over the years. Good manners, and tolerance and respect for other people are still the qualities seen as first and second most important – and this view is unchanged since 1990. However, there seems to be less of a premium on not being selfish and ‘obedience’ is definitely seen as being less important that it once was. Hard work, determination, imagination and independence are valued more now than they were in the past. 
It is interesting to see that ‘religious faith’ has fallen steadily. A person’s faith and belief system are entirely their own business, but I do believe in the importance of supporting children in developing a strong spiritual awareness. Whether that spirituality is found in music, art, nature or a place of worship is less important to me than helping young people find strength, comfort and inspiration from a positive source that is outside of themselves.  
I am delighted that good manners, and tolerance and respect for others remain as important as ever in the UK. I spoke of the importance of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at our start of year whole-school assembly and Wellington’s core values of kindness, empathy, equality and inclusivity speak directly to the premium we place on being a strong and cohesive community. These values and priorities have stood the test of time and will most certainly continue to play a central part in a Wellington School education. 


Being Kind And Working Hard
It has been a wonderfully energetic and enthusiastic start to the term. Notwithstanding the inevitable nerves associated with new beginnings, it feels like we are all set for a positive year ahead. 
I spoke in yesterday’s whole-school assembly about two very clear expectations I have of every pupil at Wellington School. 
The first is to be kind. I asked that in all their dealings, pupils put themselves in the other person’s shoes, that they think about how the other person is feeling and how their actions and words are making others feel. Kindness is a core value of Wellington School and being kind invites us to expand our sense of wellbeing to include others as well. Kindness gives us the ability to empathise with others and, at its most basic level, tells us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. At its deepest level, kindness says “we are all one”.
The second is to work hard. I stressed to pupils that we expect them to stick to whichever job or course of action they have committed to, even in the face of challenge or discouragement. I asked pupils to approach tasks with energy, enthusiasm, determination, discipline, tenacity and grit. We know that hard work is essential for success and that without it we cannot accomplish anything meaningful. I pointed out that working hard means showing up to training, studying, giving your all and getting up after you have fallen. It involves having an unbreakable, almost stubborn, determination. Treating challenges like energy bars.
Sometime pupils lose sight of Wellington’s core values, and we will always work to support them in getting back on track when this happens. However, our expectations and standards are clear and, ultimately, there is no place at Wellington School for anyone who persistently fails to meet them. 
If we are kind and we work hard, we will achieve great things together. Kindness and hard work will see us continuing to go from strength to strength as we live and learn together. 

The Wellington Family Spirit
It has been a good year for Wellington School, and we have been able to celebrate many highlights. We aim to provide an outstanding, positively life-changing education for our pupils, but how do we know whether or not we hit those high notes? I suggest that external reviews can go a long way to signalling whether we’re on the right track.
Over the past few years, Wellington School has been inspected by the Home Office (international boarders’ visas), Ministry of Defence (CCF equipment etc.), Health and Safety Executive (response to COVID-19 regulations), Joint Council for Qualifications (exams administration), Food Standards Agency (catering provision), Independent Schools Teachers Induction Programme (Early Careers Teacher induction) and the Independent School Inspectorate (compliance and educational quality). None of the inspecting teams have any loyalty or affection for Wellington; they arrive with a job to do and come armed with very sharp pencils. We have passed each of these inspections with flying colours.
We have also been nominated for a number of awards. Independent Senior School of the Year, Independent Pre-Prep School of the Year, Independent School of the Year for Student Careers Programme, Best Prep School Subject Lead and Best Eco-Initiative of the Year. Our Senior School Arts and Music Departments this year won their nomination for ‘Originality in Teaching in Music and the Arts’ and last year we won a national award for our service to the community.
In and outside the classroom, our pupils continue to shine. We have pupils performing in the West End, being signed by record labels, and seeking to circumnavigate Britain in an electric rib. Pupils representing their county and country on the sports field, being selected for the National Youth Theatre and the National Youth Choir; being placed in the very highest position in national singing competitions. Pupils being accepted into some of the most competitive universities and colleges in the country and, in some instances, in the world.
It isn’t just those who are in the limelight who we celebrate. Every pupil who gives their all in representing their House in the Norman Cup, who braves the weather when representing the School on a cold winter’s day, who works hard in class, offers a kind word and a hand of friendship deserves to be applauded and celebrated for their resilience, enthusiasm and remarkable abilities.
Ensuring that the School continues to thrive will require continued hard work and there is no room for complacency. Our commitment to building outstanding relationships, pursuing excellence and our love of learning remain vital ingredients to Wellington’s ongoing success. But it is the spirit within every member of the Wellington family which is most important. It is that spirit which will see us meeting future challenges and making the most of opportunities as they arise.


How Might ChatGPT Benefit Education
‘Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer’ was launched in November 2022 and, by January 2023, had become the fastest growing consumer software application in history. According to the latest data, there are now over 100 million ChatGPT users. 
What does all this mean for education? It is a question we are giving considerable thought to, but the answer isn’t immediately apparent. Is ‘artificial intelligence’ a cause for doom and gloom? I don’t think so. Does it have the potential to be a positive disruptor? I think it does.  Whatever the answer to these questions, we are all finding our way in trying to make sense of the potential opportunities and threats this new technology presents. 

How might ChatGPT, and other applications like it, benefit education? It could save teachers time as they prepare resources. Pupils could use ChatGPT to access ideas and brainstorm when completing work. The application could be used to edit and proof-read material, translate text or summarise documents. It could facilitate more individualised learning and even see pupils completing assessments when they feel ready to do so, as opposed to waiting for set times during an academic year. 
That said, ChatGPT may not be as intelligent as many are making it out to be. ChatGPT is only 70-80% accurate in the work it produces and only 60% successful in telling whether information it is accessing is truthful or not. ChatGPT is not at all impressive when it comes to mathematics and it does not have ‘intentionality’ i.e. it will only do as it is told. It isn’t particularly creative and is certainly vulnerable to bias. I have heard ChatGPT being described as being ‘a bit dim’ at the moment, although the person offering this opinion did go on to say that this would probably change over time. Perhaps the greatest risk AI presents to our pupils’ learning is that it ‘steals the struggle’, the hard work which sees understanding deepen and mastery develop.

An area of concern lies in the regulation of artificial intelligence more widely. The companies behind AI applications are seeking to maximise their profits, in exactly the same way the companies behind all the social media platforms children use are doing. These companies are profit-maximisers and it is not always immediately apparent where children’s mental health, safety and wellbeing rank in their list of priorities. 

Whatever the strengths and weakness of the ChatGPT – and other platforms like it – and however this technology develops in the future, what is clear is that our pupils will need to understand how it might be able to help or hinder their learning. 

ChatGPT is here to stay, and we are going to work with our pupils to make sure that it enriches their learning and empowers them to move forward with ever greater confidence. 

ISI Inspection 2023: Excellent
We are delighted with the outcome of our recent inspection. Fully compliant and excellent on all fronts. That’s what we like to see!
The team of inspectors who visited Wellington in March spent days visiting lessons, going to chapel services and tutor meetings and watching cocurricular activities. They spoke to pupils, staff and Governors, walked through our boarding houses and asked pupils, parents and staff to complete an online questionnaire. Inspectors reviewed our policies, made sure that services had been completed and maintenance done as needed. The full inspection report can be found on this page.


This successful outcome is the result of a fantastic team effort from everyone across our community. Governors, staff, parents, pupils and alumni have all worked together to make Wellington School what it is: excellent!
Pride, Discipline and Teamwork
Our recent CCF Inspection was a wonderful event. Every cadet was impeccably presented and paraded with great pride and precision. The Corps of Drums was as rousing as ever, and it was a delight to see so many awards being presented to proud recipients.
Captain Pat Mowatt inspected the Contingent and spoke of the importance of pride, discipline and teamwork. Captain Mowatt is currently Maritime Geospatial Intelligence Liaison Officer for the National Centre for Geospatial Intelligence (NCGI). His last sea appointment was in Command of the Ocean Survey Vessel HMS Scott, undertaking strategic deep-water data gathering.
Captain Mowatt spoke of the importance of pride in yourself, your work and the organisation you are a part of. He stressed the importance of healthy self-discipline and being focused on your efforts. Finally, he emphasised the multiplying force that is effective teamwork; working well with others towards a common goal was critical. Pride, discipline and teamwork are a sure recipe for success and a recent visit to see cadets taking part in a variety of activities, in fields near Langport, confirmed that they certainly understand their importance. 
I felt immensely proud of our CCF. The effort our cadets went to in preparing for the special occasion deserved high praise, and none of the highlights and successes they enjoyed would have been possible without a team of dedicated staff. 


While it is possible to achieve a lot on one’s own, it is almost always better when we work together as a team. There are, of course, times when we have to shoulder responsibility individually to get something done, but sharing a load across a team sees us able to do more and, invariably, to do it better. 

Teams come in all shapes and sizes. Your favourite sports team, the team you shout for on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, you and your partner working together towards a shared objective. There is no set definition of the size or composition of a team, only that it is a group working towards a common goal. 

I have had the great pleasure and privilege of seeing many teams across our community working well together. Our inspection call came recently and ‘Team Wellington’ sprung into action. Governors, staff, pupils and parents were informed, the inspectors’ meeting room was set up and questionnaires were sent out. Teachers completed required paperwork and the Campus Team did a last-minute check to ensure that everything was as it needed to be. The inspectors arrived on Tuesday morning and teaching and support staff from both the Prep and Senior Schools put their best foot forward. On Thursday afternoon, Governors and senior leaders gathered together to the inspection team’s findings. 

It was demanding and, I don’t mind admitting, quite stressful. However, everyone at Wellington pulled together and our school shone brightly. Thank you, everyone, for your support during our inspection. We are very pleased with how it went, and will share the inspection report as soon as we are able. 


I am very proud that Wellington School has committed to becoming an exemplar of 21st Century green-space management. We will be planting trees, grasses and hedges around the campus which will, by 2045-50, lead to a doubling of the School’s tree coverage. We have been advised by a specialist arboricultural and environmental consultancy service, and the project will take place in three phases.  Phase 1 (2022/23) has seen us planting over 200 trees around Bulford, a ‘tredge’ (hedge with trees) made up of 325 trees behind the Sports Centre and 25 trees on South Street frontages. Phase 2 (2023/24) will see 180 trees being planted around Gills Field and 180 trees around School Field.  The details of Phase 3 will be finalised on reviewing phases 1 and 2. Our Eco-Committee - W.A.S.P. (Wellington Against Single-Use Plastics) – has been doing an excellent job in raising awareness of recycling and supporting recycling across the school community. They presented at assembly and have collected everyday items which are too easily thrown into general rubbish. W.A.S.P has been collecting pens, crisp packets and batteries (1000 collected so far) for recycling. They have also worked with the Prep School gardening club to start to dig the new wildlife garden near the Senior School science block. This project saw pupils working together to dig wild- flower beds and perform a litter pick. This project will help increase the biodiversity of flora and fauna around the School.  The School’s new electric van is now in full-time use. It is being used to transport goods around the site, and for collections and deliveries further afield. More motion-sensor lights have been fitted in buildings and LEDs have been installed in the Sports Hall, Classroom Block and the astro; they are currently being fitted in the Science Block. These lights will reduce energy usage and so bring down costs. We are currently reviewing the use of lighting across the campus through the day, in the evenings and over the weekends.

Our commitment to sustainability is a strategic priority (www.wellington-school.org.uk/senior/school-life/our-vision). Taking steps to be greener and more energy efficient can support our pupils’ learning, is good for the climate and reduces operating costs.


Mobile Phones - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
We have been talking a lot about the use of mobile phones at school this term. We’ve been asking where and when pupils and staff should use them, and we’ve also discussed the degree to which a pupil’s age should be considered when making these decisions. When it comes to phones, we see ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’.

The good: mobile phones are amazing devices which have had a positive impact on our lives. They allow us to do so much – shop, watch TV, manage our diaries, make films, trade shares, take and share photographs and, of course, stay in touch with friends and family. 

The bad: mobile phones come with a health warning. They can have a negative impact on our eye-sight and profoundly disrupt our sleep patterns. There are concerns about the impact radioactive elements in phones can have on our bodies. 

The ugly: Online bullying, pernicious algorithms, the social pressures which come with seeing photosphopped creations of ‘perfect people living perfect lives’, social ineptness and the complete loss of awareness of our surroundings, the flood of toxic messaging and misinformation. 

There is no doubt that technology is a force for good but we must help our young people to learn how to use it wisely. Given that they access technology through devices, we have to support them in being in control of these devices – and we must all work together to make young people aware of the risks associated with not being in control. Let’s labour under no illusion, the social media and gaming giants have absolutely no interest in curbing the use of devices by young people; doing so would hit their  bottom line and they are not interesed in that. They want our young people to stare at their screens – to click, swipe, share and like – as much as humanly possible. 

We do want our pupils to use devices sensibly and constructively; we do not want them to be slaves to screens. We do want young people be able to harness the benefits of technology; we do not want to see ‘smart phones being used by dumb people’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJF6irK88SA
 We need to work together to support our young people in learning how to effectively manage their relationship with their devices. 

Last week was Children’s Mental Health Week. Camilla Tominey, a journalist who writes for The Telegraph, wrote about her experience of persuading her eldest two children to exchange their smart phones for basic ‘bricks’. She said that the outcome was a ‘a revelation’ . Perhaps we could all challenge ourselves to go without our smartphones for a while – even if only for a day or a weekend. Whatever our age, we might just be pleasantly surprised by the positive impact doing so has on our mental health.