What does it mean to be ‘an academic school’?

What does it mean to be ‘an academic school’? Well, we are a very seriously academic school, so let’s consider what we do at Wellington.

  • We support every individual student – personally – in the development of strong all-round skills (social, intellectual, physical and so on).
  • We focus, as teachers, not just on the next steps for each individual child but also – crucially – on fixing any emerging difficulties (not just because they can be fixed but also because it’s our job!)
  • We expect every student to excel (expecting is easy!) – and give very serious attention to building the skills, knowledge and understanding which must be the foundations of that excellence.
  • We have a world-leading environment for learning – and this is important because it is designed specifically, and in detail, to engender the gradual, step-by-step development of genuine personal motivation and independence, which are the best engines for life-long success.

‘But’ – someone might say – ‘my cousin’s child is at another school, and they are studying advanced calculus: that must be the better school!’ This is a basic ‘magpie’ error (attraction to shiny but low-quality things). Or ‘another school looks ugly and doesn’t seem to be fun, but they are good because they are very rigorous!’ That is puritan nonsense: happiness and human-ness are not the enemies of success.

A performing monkey can do surprising tricks but lacks understanding of what is going on. A ‘performing monkey’ school may make big claims about how advanced their education is but, in fact, they are teaching shallow tricks.

The best education is deep, focused on long-term development and – most of all – richly human in every aspect. You will not find that in every school that claims to be excellent.

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