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We Are Wellington | A holistic education and welcoming community

08 November 2017
Mariel and Jade Ellis along with their children Thomas and Alexander joined our Wellington family during the College’s founding academic year. As part of our ongoing We Are Wellington project, they share their thoughts on choosing Wellington College for their children and their experiences since then. When we were looking at schools for our two sons, Thomas and Alexander, one of the most important factors that influenced our decision was that they should get the kind of education that would help them develop as people, not just as academic pupils. We wanted them to go to a school that would not only give them the knowledge that they need, but also help them discover new interests, talents and elements of their personality, and then help them make the most of these new discoveries. We did quite a lot of research before joining. What struck us the most was Anthony Seldon’s experience as 13th Master of Wellington College: he was very progressive there in terms of adding innovative education elements to the curriculum. He really seemed to understand how children think and learn, as well as how to help them unlock their potential. For us, this was exactly the kind of holistic education that we had been looking for, and it led us to choosing Wellington College International Shanghai. Fortunately, Wellington has access to so many different resources to achieve this goal of delivering a holistic education: it has incredible facilities which are the best in Shanghai, it has highly experienced and capable teachers drawn from across the world and, most importantly, it has a teaching philosophy which brings all of these resources together and uses them to their fullest effect. Wellington recognises potential in everyone During our boys’ time here, we’ve seen them flourish in so many different ways. From their academic successes, to becoming great cross-country runners and taking key parts in the school production, they have truly grown in terms of their physical and mental abilities, as well as shaping elements of their personalities. Of course, like all pupils at Wellington, this is due in large part to their hard work and perseverance. However, the learning environment at Wellington is another vital part of the equation, because their teachers have done everything they can to find and bring out the best in them. Not only are the staff technically brilliant and widely experienced, they it’s also clear to see that they care about all of their pupils. There are so many teachers who have had a huge impact on Thomas and Alexander in so many different ways. From recognising Thomas’ acting potential which led to his role of Dandy Dan in the Bugsy Malone production, to their sport coaching, dozens of other staff members have greatly influenced them both. This has led to so many proud moments and milestones, as the College has brought out another side of them that we’ve never seen before. The teachers and housemasters are the best at seeing that talent, that potential, and bringing it to life. This is a truly wonderful thing for any parent to see: to know that your children have found things that they love, that they are good at, that they can be confident in and that help refine their personality and sense of self. The co-curricular activity (CCA) programme supports this concept too, because it opens up a whole new world of sports and activities for the pupils to explore and try out. This helps them learn new skills but it can also be a great way to unwind as they try all kinds of fantastic new experiences and find out what they truly enjoy. For example, we had no idea that our boys would develop such a love of running, and that they would frequently surprise us by getting up very early, excited about training with the running club. We feel that experiences like this are really helping them lead such healthy, happy and balanced lives at school and at home. Supporting wellbeing and growth This attitude of looking after and developing each pupil also extends to their emotional wellbeing, alongside their academic progress. For example, we love the house system at Wellington, because it gives the boys a greater sense of belonging and support at school. Their housemasters are excellent at getting to know their house members and looking to resolve any issues or challenges that they might be facing. They’re great even in areas that could easily be overlooked, like eating properly at lunchtime, for example. We really appreciate that, as parents who are concerned about their children’s diet. This is just one part of the wellbeing programme, which we have found to be a hugely positive aspect of the boys’ overall experience at Wellington. Bringing in things like meditation and other healthy influences is important because it allows the pupils to aim for high academic achievement levels while at the same time keeping their stress levels low. Recognising and encouraging new talents Wellington doesn’t just help pupils develop pure academic skills of reading, writing, and so on, it also shows them how to communicate ideas, which is something that everybody needs to be able to do throughout their lives. While Thomas is something of a dramatist, Alex is more into maths and engineering. However, when we explained to him that even engineers need to be able to communicate their ideas well, he decided to take a CCA in public speaking, which he hugely enjoyed. Again, this feeds back into the holistic nature of Wellington’s approach to education, by ensuring that each pupil can express themselves with clarity and energy, no matter what subjects they have an aptitude for. Becoming part of the Wellington family The final element that helps bring everything together is how all of the pupils are made to feel so welcome and at home here from the moment they arrive. We’ve already mentioned the house system which helps foster friendship between different year groups, but there are also so many great events throughout the year which allow everyone at the College to come together and feel part of one big family. Naturally, this goes for the parents too. We are part of the Friends of Wellington committee as new parent representatives and we do our best to make new parents feel truly welcome when they arrive, just as we were welcomed. To be involved in the community in this way makes us feel more engaged with our sons’ education. We feel so privileged to have such a fantastic community here, one which is full of people who are always happy and willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in with preparations at a moment’s notice. Whether it’s the Summer Festival, the International Food Festival, the recent Annual Ball, no matter what the occasion, everyone puts so much of their heart and soul into these events and the positive impact is plain to see. Growing from strength to strength Wellington has helped our sons discover so much about themselves and we can’t wait to see what else they are capable of during their time here as they prepare for the wider world that waits after school. We are very grateful that they are in a challenging learning environment where everyone is trying to be the best that they can be, while remaining so friendly, supportive and kind at the same time.