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Wellington College: parents' guide to Year 9 entry

School guide

Jan 31, 2023, 2:04 PM

Wellington College: a parents' guide to Year 9 entry


Wellington College is a boarding school in Crowthorne, Berkshire for boys and girls aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1853 as a living memorial to the Duke of Wellington and occupies a 400-acre parkland estate, where buildings are a fusion of traditional architecture and state-of-the-art facilities. The school has an all-pervading culture of ambition and aspiration and was the first school in the UK to introduce wellbeing to the curriculum in 2006. The school population is large and diverse; there are over 1,100 pupils on-roll, including a mix of 30 different nationalities.

Wellington College is committed to intellectual development and high academic standards through a rich and stimulating education. In the third form (Year 9), the curriculum is deliberately broad and consists of traditional subjects, modern languages (pupils choose two from French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Russian), a classical subject (chosen from Latin, Greek & Latin, or Ancient History), practical and creative subjects including computer science and dance, and wellbeing. Exam results are consistently high; in 2022, 78% of GCSE grades were 9/8 (A* equivalent), while 84% of all Year 13 grades were A*/A at A level or 7/6 at IB (International Baccalaureate). These results place the school within the top 10 globally for the IB.

Boys and girls at Wellington College have access to an extensive programme of extracurricular activities, with 150 to choose from. Every pupil is involved in a dynamic arts programme and an arts or fringe festival is held on-site every year, featuring Wellington students and internationally renowned artists. Wellington is also renowned for being one of the strongest sporting schools in the UK; over 98% of pupils are involved in weekly sports, while 30 sports are played competitively – some to national success.

Key information for Wellington College

  • Head: Mr James Dahl

  • Address: Wellington College, Duke’s Ride, Crowthorne, Berkshire, RG45 7PU

  • County: Berkshire

  • Admissions contact: Mrs Louise Peate – [email protected], 01344 444013

  • Age range and gender: 13–18, co-educational

  • Number of pupils: 1,100+

  • Open day date: Saturday 19th March and Saturday 22nd April 2023. College tours are also available in June and September. For all open events, book a place on the school website

  • Overview of selection procedure: ISEB Common Pre-Test, head teacher’s reference, and on-site selection day

  • Registration closes: 30th June in Year 5

  • Assessment date: October–November in Year 6 (ISEB Common Pre-Test) and January–February in Year 6 (selection day)

Wellington College fees and financial assistance

The current fees at Wellington College are £10,980 per term for day pupils, £11,920 for day pupils in boarding houses, and £15,030 per term for full boarding pupils.

Wellington College aims to enable more families, who would not otherwise be able to afford the school fees, to send their child to the school. All financial aid in terms of fee reduction is awarded via a means-testing procedure and can range from 10% to 100% of fees. In an average year, 20 pupils might be admitted with an average fee-remission award of 50%.

Some fee-assisted places are named awards, including the Jimmy Higham Award (which supports a talented sportsperson), the Seb Foundation Award (for talented rugby players) and the Sir Anthony Seldon Arts Award (for talented artists, musicians and performers). Children whose families are on national average income or below and who meet the minimum criteria for entrance may also be eligible for The Prince Albert Foundation, which provides a fully-funded education.

Everything you need to know about bursaries

Wellington College also awards scholarships to reward excellence and celebrate outstanding potential in a range of subjects (academic and music scholarships are available for 13+ applicants). However, scholarship awards in themselves do not provide reduction in school fees; at the most, music scholarships provide free tuition in two instruments, and free composition and Alexander Technique lessons.

Wellington College term dates

The term dates at Wellington College for 2023–24 are:

  • Autumn term (Michaelmas): 4th September – 15th December 2023

  • Half term: 21st October – 5th November 2023

  • Spring term (Lent): 8th January – 22nd March 2024

  • Half term: 9th–18th February 2024

  • Summer term: 15th April – 28th June 2024

  • Half term: 25th May – 2nd June 2024

The provisional term dates for 2024–2025 at Wellington College are:

  • Autumn term (Michaelmas): 2nd September – 13th December 2024

  • Half term: 19th October – 3rd November 2024

  • Spring term (Lent): 6th January – 28th March 2025

  • Half term: 14th–23rd February 2025

  • Summer term: 22nd April – 27th June 2025

  • Half term: 24th May – 1st June 2025

Admissions process for Year 9 entry to Wellington College

Selection for entry at Wellington College is based on academic criteria in addition to the child’s character, interests, talents and personality. The school is looking for boys and girls who:

  • have the potential to become intellectual, inspired and independent learners

  • have the desire and ability to contribute broadly in co-curricular activities

  • possess the personality and character for life in a busy boarding environment

  • show traits such as independence, resilience and inclusivity

1. Visit

If you are considering Wellington College for your child’s secondary education, it’s important to visit the school first to make sure that it would be a good fit for your child before you begin an application.

There are three types of visiting options at the school:

2. Registration

The admissions process for Wellington College begins when you submit an application form for your child. Early registration is recommended (the date of registration is used as a deciding factor when allocating houses) and must be completed by the 30th June when your child is in Year 5.

Wellington College is currently accepting applications for entry to Year 9 in 2026 and beyond. To register your child, you will need to complete the online application form and pay a non-refundable registration fee of £300.

3. Stage 1: ISEB Common Pre-Test

All children who are registered for 13 plus entry to Wellington College will take the ISEB Common Pre-Test in the autumn term of Year 6. This test is normally taken at your child’s current school, although a small number of candidates may take them at Wellington College. Children applying from overseas can take the test at a British Council or other approved testing centre. Regardless of where your child takes the test, you will need to register them separately (for free) via the ISEB website.

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is an online, adaptive exam and takes a little over 2 hours to complete. Questions span four subjects:

  • English: 40 minutes available. The content covers reading comprehension and SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar).

  • Maths: 40 minutes available. Pupils are tested on Key Stage 2 maths, which includes number and place value, calculations, fractions, decimals and percentages, measurement, geometry, and statistics.

  • Verbal reasoning: 30 minutes available. Candidates are tested on their logic and comprehension, including problem-solving techniques, trial and error skills, the ability to work logically, the ability to recognise suitable solutions, and knowledge of vocabulary and definitions.

  • Non-verbal reasoning: 36 minutes available. Pupils will be asked to analyse 2D figures and diagrams and look for patterns, and manipulate 3D figures and diagrams to visualise them in different ways.

Exclusive resource: best ISEB exam techniques

ISEB mock test on Atom Nucleus

4. Stage 2: Selection day

Children who perform well in the ISEB Common Pre-Test and who have a strong reference from their current headteacher will then be invited to a selection day at Wellington College. There are normally around 500 children who are shortlisted for the selection day each year.

The selection day takes place in either the morning or afternoon on a date in January or February in Year 6. There are no tests; children will get involved in a series of collaborative lessons and problem-solving activities and will have an interview with a member of senior staff.

Private school interviews: tips and advice

4. Scholarships

Children applying for 13 plus entry to Wellington College may apply for a scholarship as a recognition of potential and talent. Academic and music scholarships and exhibitions are offered before entry via an exam and interview process that takes place during Year 8.

The school also offers art, dance, drama and sports scholarships, but these are not offered until the end of the third form (Year 9) after the child has joined the school. However, candidates who are interested in these scholarships and who have passed the entrance process will be invited to attend an ‘Inspire Day’ in the spring term of Year 8. This is an opportunity to show teachers their talent and get a feel for the extension programme which will be available to them when they join the school. More information about 13+ scholarships is available on the school website.

5. Offers

Wellington College makes offers to families in March in Year 6. Offers are conditional on the basis that the child maintains a good standard and record at their current school until the end of Year 8.

How to prepare for 13 plus entry to Wellington College

Exam preparation with Atom Nucleus

Atom Nucleus

If your child is applying for 13 plus entry to Wellington College, they will be tested across the Key Stage 2 curriculum and beyond, with exams in English and maths in addition to verbal and non-verbal reasoning (which are not taught at school).

Atom Nucleus is an all-in-one exam preparation platform which can help your child consolidate everything they need to know and prepare effectively for success in the Wellington College admissions process.

Exam Prep Plus subscribers get unlimited access to:

  • Over 90,000 interactive questions in Key Stage 2 English, maths, science, verbal and non-verbal reasoning

  • Unlimited online practice papers including replicas of the ISEB Common Pre-Test. All tests are automatically marked with instant score breakdowns

  • Daily live lessons and holiday revision programmes to help your child master key topics and revise efficiently

  • A detailed parent dashboard, allowing you to track your child’s progress, set targets, and quickly create exercises for your child

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Interview preparation with Atom Tuition

Shortlisted 13 plus candidates for entry to Wellington College will have an interview with a member of staff. This is a common practice at independent schools, as it can provide a more holistic insight into your child’s abilities and interests. However, even informal interviews can still be daunting for many 10 and 11-year-olds!

Atom Tuition offers online mock interviews with experienced tutors who are specialists in the private school admissions process. A one-hour session consists of a 30-minute interview, a 10-minute break, 20 minutes of feedback and a follow-up report.

These mock interviews are an ideal opportunity for your child to:

  • Encounter typical private school interview questions

  • Learn and practice techniques that will serve them well in the real interview

  • Develop their conversational skills and storytelling style

  • Demystify the interview process and know what to expect

  • Reduce any anxiety and feel confident for the real interview

Get support with school interviews

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