Wellington Academy opened in 2009 to serve Tidworth, Ludgershall and surrounding villages – a unique rural area within the growing ‘super-garrison’ for the army on Salisbury Plain. We have the second highest number of service families of any secondary school nationally and play a major role in delivering the new cross-government military covenant.
Our sponsor, Wellington College, is the only independent school to have given its name to an academy, which has involved the development of a purpose built £32million campus, including twin boarding houses for 100 students. This is the largest development of new state boarding in the country, based on a desire to provide stability for military families and vulnerable learners in the care of the local authority. We also have two applied learning centres, one on the adjoining Castledown Business Park and a purpose built Cadet Centre, run jointly with 22 Royal Engineers. There is significant interest and involvement from senior political and military figures, as well as the royal family, as we are seen as a prototype for military-civilian integration as the army relocates personnel to the UK. HRH Duke of York is the Academy’s patron and performed the official opening. HM The Queen has already met twice with students.
Since opening, community confidence in the school has mushroomed because we have an uncompromising commitment to the education and care of every single student in the locality. The school is now the first choice for virtually every single family in year 6 at our five main feeder schools. The roll has increased from 550 to 1000, with sixth form numbers over 200 and former students now at university. Boarding in the next academic year will be 100% occupied, two years ahead of schedule.
The academy also has very strong support from senior military figures in Whitehall, national and local politicians, as well as local community, business and military leaders across Wiltshire. This ‘feel good factor’ across a range of stakeholders has grown quickly. 4,500 troops were deployed from the local garrison last year to Afghanistan and if serving soldiers are worried about their partners and their children back home, morale suffers. The Principal has had only one phone call directly from Helmand Province since the school opened – and was able to immediately enlist the support of the Garrison Commander to resolve the issue.
Wellington Academy has already been at the heart of a transformation in secondary educational opportunity for our community, with very much more still to be accomplished, not least in terms of continuing to raise standards of attainment. The next phase of development will include sixth form expansion onto the adjoining business park, the opening of a new primary school, more integrated planning 3-19 in the Tidworth Community Area and programmes associated with the sponsor’s new status as a teaching school.