Sir Anthony Seldon: Private schools getting involved in the state sector need to focus on children who are not stars

The Times is reporting that a leading independent school will open its second sponsored academy this week, despite having faced difficulties with the original state secondary school that it had backed, with executive head Sir Anthony Seldon saying that private schools getting involved in the state sector need to look beyond the most able pupils…

Wellington College is sponsoring a primary school in Tidworth, Wiltshire, which will serve as a feeder school to its secondary academy a mile away. Both schools have taken Wellington’s name, staking its reputation on how well both perform.

This summer’s GCSE results at Wellington Academy were below the government’s threshold, with 37 per cent of pupils awarded at least five GCSEs at grade C or higher, including English and maths, for the second year running.

Ofsted has said that the secondary academy requires improvement, although at their most recent monitoring visit in March inspectors said that effective action was being taken to address weaknesses.

Sir Anthony Seldon, the headmaster of Wellington and executive head of the academy since last year, admitted that he initially underestimated how “hands on” the college needed to be as an academy sponsor.

However, he said that the experience reaffirmed his belief that all independent schools should support a state school as an academy sponsor, and focus on children who most needed their backing…

“The very clear lesson that we have learnt is that you can’t do it in a half-hearted way. You have simply got to come in and absolutely insist on the ethos and insist on adopting best practice,” Sir Anthony said.

“That may be why some of the [independent] schools want to go in at the top end, that they have taken kids who are proven successes in the state sector, floated to the top of the cream, and you then cream them off. If we are to see a social transformation here, independent schools should be involved in sponsoring kids who are not the stars, who have not flourished in the state sector already.”

…The primary school, opening in a new building to serve the growing garrison town, will begin with a reception class and three mixed-aged classes but will grow to a capacity of 420 children…

More at: Top independent school to sponsor primary academy (subscription required)


Interesting comments from Sir Anthony on the need for Independent schools who get involved with the state sector to work with children who are not the stars. Your thoughts and feedback? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Academies and Private Schools.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Great that Wellington want to try to improve results in state sector; results would suggest that they are doing anything but

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove DfE awards another academy to Wellington (essentially a Trust) when the first has twice fallen below “acceptable threshold”

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Had Mr Seldon not been such a vocal supporter of Tory education policy in the media would the DfE award another academy?

  4. missgeorgesg

    SchoolsImprove If private schools didn’t focus on their stars/favourites, they would realise that other children had potential

  5. HughdjNicklin

    andylutwyche Not surprising. Ind teachers’ prestige based on fact that their job 20x easier than state. I’ve done both jobs.

  6. AynieLR

    SchoolsImprove I wish he’d just go to his comfortable silo where he can do no damage. What he knows abt state ed can be written on a stamp.

  7. Janet2

    Private school sponsorship is no magic bullet: Dulwich College is no longer lead sponsor of Isle of Sheppey Academy; Woodard Academies Trust is troubled; a million or so has gone missing at Haberdashers’ Aske’s and a much-respected head of Wellington Academy left suddenly after low GCSEs last year. Yet Seldon still thinks private school heads should take over state schools and insist things are done their way.
    Doesn’t he know private schools’ results depend on their selected intake? And when socio-economic factors are taken into account, UK state schools outperform private ones (OECD).

  8. AndyDefinite

    SchoolsImprove Whoever put out the lie that private schools are where the stars are? Spoilt indulged and fed false confidence thru wealth!

  9. SchoolsImprove

    AndyDefinite I think the point he is making is that private schools tend to focus on the stars in state schools when they get involved

  10. AndyDefinite

    SchoolsImprove AndyDefinite I suppose my point is that state education should simply not engage in the language of the private sector!

  11. missgeorgesg

    SchoolsImprove All those students are no doubt the students that the teachers moddlecoddled and bent over backwards for.

  12. poachermullen

    SchoolsImprove rather: Private school heads who get involved in state education need to listen more and preach less #bequietSeldon!

  13. VictoriaJaquiss

    SchoolsImprove Rather missing the point. Life not about no. gCSEs passed. Schools shud not b measured thus. Academisation-pointless.

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