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Wellington College

Boarding 13-18yrs
Type: Senior
Pupil Numbers: 610 boys and 480 girls
Entrance Procedure: Candidates registered for 13+ entry (by the end of Year 5) sit the ISEB Common Pre-Test in the Michaelmas term of Year 6. Selection for a subsequent assessment day at Wellington (usually in the Lent term of Year 6 and consisting of problem-solving activities and interview) is based in small part on the results of the Pre-Test and in much larger part on a school reference. Those who are successful are then offered a place conditional on a satisfactory reference from their current school at the end of Year 8. A waiting list also operates.
Fees per term: Boarding: £14,210 Day (in boarding house): £11,920 Day: £10,380

Head's Up

Start Date: September 2019
Previous Roles: Educated at The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle and Haileybury, and having read Classics at Cambridge, James started his career under Anthony Seldon at Brighton College becoming Head of Classics at the age of 23 and then Head of Sixth Form. In 2006 he left Brighton to become a Housemaster at Repton before joining Wellington in 2013 as Director of Admissions & Marketing, followed by Second Master (Elect) and Deputy Head (Pastoral), before being appointed as Master in 2019.
Something people don't know about you: On graduating from university James’s career choice was Latin Teacher or Techno DJ.

Wellington College aims to offer an education that equips our students with the skills, philosophy and mind-set for happy, successful and fulfilling lives. Our students should understand their responsibilities to others and seek to make a significant positive contribution to society.


SNTV interview with James Dahl

The inside track from a current parent

During our two years as Wellington parents we have been thoroughly impressed by the college’s forward thinking, innovative approach to educating teenagers. Pupils are encouraged to think independently, to be inquisitive and self-motivated. There is a palpable buzz about the place. It is inclusive, the student body is typified by its energy and a desire to succeed across all areas of the curriculum.

Wellington is a busy place and there is a collective mentality that it’s good to try hard, work hard and to have a go at things. Every school year starts with an event called ‘Carnival’ where the whole central courtyard is turned into a fair akin to “Freshers Week” with a huge variety of clubs, sports and activities on display. Pupils are encouraged to sign up and get involved. The summer term ends with an event called ‘Maniacs’ where every member of college is encouraged to swim two lengths of the outdoor pool for house points at 7am before the school day begins. It is frowned upon if you don’t show up – winning Maniacs is a badge of honour.

We have been particularly delighted to see how adept our son has become at managing himself. He has developed a mature way of interacting with his masters. Technology is woven into the fabric of his daily school life and he uses it in a very efficient and businesslike manner.

We also feel the weekly boarding aspect suits us all. Our son really puts his head down during the week and engages fully with everything the school has to offer, knowing that at the weekend he can return home and completely switch off and relax. It also affords us the opportunity to keep in touch with his life and hear about all his exploits during the week. For us, it seems like a healthy and modern approach to work & life.

As parents we love...

  • That our son is never bored, he is always busy and fully engaged with school life
  • The weekly boarding aspect – a perfect balance of hard work and relaxation
  • The incredible plays & musicals in the new Annenberg Centre – the performances are staggering

As pupils we love...

  • The co-ed set up – our son has made great friends of both sexes
  • His housemates – Wellington is a large school but it breaks down into smaller, more tight knit groups
  • Being treated as an independent minded young adult

What makes us different

Everything we do is built upon the foundation of kindness, responsibility, respect, integrity, and courage. We also passionately believe that the coeducation of boys and girls has never been more important, because when boys and girls are learning together, they are also learning the value of respecting new and diverse ways of thinking.

Wellington College is a school founded in service and purpose: to be a living memorial to the Iron Duke, to serve the nation by educating the orphaned children of heroes, and – as originally planned by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria – to provide a different educational experience to other boarding schools. Much has changed since then, not least Wellington now being a fully coeducational school, but fast forward 163 years, and this purpose, rooted in pioneering education to serve and help shape a better world, resonates as strongly today as it would have done when the first Wellingtonians arrived at this College in January 1859.

Wellington has always been a pioneer when it comes to teaching and learning; we were one of the first schools to offer IB as well as A Levels, the first to teach Wellbeing as part of the syllabus; and one of the earliest adopters of Mandarin in an independent school. The Mallinson Library is the beating intellectual heart of the College. Positioned at the very centre of the school it stands as a tangible symbol of Wellington itself: from the outside it looks thoroughly traditional, inside it is innovative and ground-breaking. Just the place in fact to allow our pupils to develop their own deep joy in independent reading, debating and learning. No wonder then that academic life is at the front and centre of every Wellingtonian’s experience of their time at College: it is the foundation on which all else is built. As you would expect, exam results are stellar (in 2021, at A Level, 25 students achieved straight A*s; 45% of all grades awarded were A*, 80% were A*/A and 96% were A*-B. The IB cohort achieved an incredible 41.2 average, with thirteen students achieving the maximum 45 points; 73% scored more than 40 points and 87% secured 38+. At GCSE, 78% of all grades awarded were 9/8, 94% 9-7 and 99% 9-6). More importantly is the emphasis placed on the life of the mind. A wide variety of academic societies, our Harkness philosophy, a constant flow of visiting speakers and outstanding lessons allow our pupils to thrive. Over 100 Wellingtonians have been offered Oxbridge places over the past five years, while on average 25-30 move on each year to American universities, including several to Ivy League universities.

Wellington’s ongoing and inclusive Arts programme ensures that every Wellingtonian, from the very start of their school career, is involved in our imaginative and dynamic Arts Programme. We seek to inspire their creative imagination and to make the very most of their artistic talent and potential. Our 900 seat Annenberg theatre, our six other performance spaces, our Music Department, our Dance Studio and the uniquely designed Art Studio ensure that the facilities are breath-taking and allow for all Wellingtonians to explore their creative sides. It was no wonder that the National Arts Council awarded Wellington the prestigious Arts Mark Gold standard.

At Wellington sport is emphatically for all. We seek to inspire both the elite and the beginner and want all pupils to enjoy their sport, to seek excellence in their field and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are nearly 30 sports available, from lacrosse, to triathlon, to golf to the field gun run – there is something for everyone. This last year has been a vintage one for County, Regional and National success, with Wellingtonians achieving unparalleled success in Rugby, Hockey, Netball, Rackets, Real Tennis, Shooting, Golf and Equestrian. Many individuals gained national or international honours across 14 different sports, with several going on to take up professional contracts, scholarships at US universities, and places on UK-based performance squads.

Our Global Citizenship programme is extensive. All students who pass through our doors will be involved in serving their community – and by community, we mean everyone from our closest neighbours (like the students who teach Latin at a local state school) to those much further afield. Our pioneering, outward-facing programme, Global Social Leaders, involves pupils between the ages of 9 to 19 from over 20 countries. Students learn to create and run innovative and high impact social action projects, tackling local and global issues.

Wellington College epitomises the spirit of adventure, and integral to this is a belief in the educative powers of the great outdoors. Outdoor education brings opportunities for collaboration, for risk-taking and failing fast – all of which build resilience for life beyond school. During the afternoon, the College grounds come alive with the sounds of runners and mountain-bikers; cadets criss-cross the various pathways, while service groups discuss plans for hedgehog rescues and healing gardens. Every year, the Kingsleys sees 1,000 students and staff taking part in a mass run through the College grounds, culminating in a plunge through Swan Lake.

We provide a world-renowned model of excellence in every aspect of school life: academics, pastoral care, sport, drama, music, dance, art, student media, service, leadership, and global citizenship. We are uncompromising in our ambition to provide our pupils the opportunities to flourish, to become their very best selves, and to serve and help shape a better world.


The Director of Admissions is always delighted to welcome visitors and prospective parents to the College and many opportunities are available to visit. Details and links to booking forms for Visitors Days, Master’s Receptions and College Tours may be found on the College website.
Duke's Ride, Crowthorne, Berkshire, RG45 7PU
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