In 909AD there was a Cathedral School in Wells providing education for choir boys. Today, Wells Cathedral School is fully co-educational. Its spirit is a passion for learning and life; its dream an inspiring education set in a musically alive and beautiful environment as a brilliant foundation for life; and its focus, inspiring success.
There is a senior and junior school with 760 boys and girls aged from 2 to 18. Boarders number 300, whilst the remainder are day pupils. Once accepted, a child normally remains in the school without further Entrance Examination until the age of 18+.
Situations and Buildings. The mediaeval city of Wells, with its famous Cathedral and a population of only 10,500, is the smallest city in England. It is just over 20 miles from Bath and Bristol where there is a good rail service, and easily accessed from the M4 and M5 motorways. Bristol International Airport is a 40-minute drive away. The school occupies all but one of the canonical houses in The Liberty, keeping its mediaeval and 18th century atmosphere whilst providing for the needs of modern boarding education. There are modern classrooms and science laboratories built amongst walled gardens. A sports hall provides indoor facilities for tennis, badminton, cricket, basketball, volleyball, hockey, five-a-side football, climbing and multi-gym. There are theatrical and concert facilities, including a brand new award-winning concert hall, a music technology centre, a computer studies centre, art, design and technology department, drama studio, dance studio, library, sixth form centre, 25-metre covered swimming pool, tennis and netball courts, brand new astroturf pitch, three sports fields and an all-weather hard play area.
There are nine boarding houses, one for junior boarders, one for sixth form boarders and a further seven in the senior school, three for boys and four for girls, the most senior pupils having study-bedrooms. The aim is to give security to the younger and to develop a sense of responsibility in the older.
Organisation and Curriculum. The school aims to be a well-regulated community in which pupils may learn to live in harmony and mutual respect with each other and with the adults who care for them. The curriculum has been designed to enable all children who gain entry to the school to develop fully all their abilities, and to take their place in due course in tertiary education and the adult community of work and leisure. Forms are limited to a maximum of 25; average class sizes are typically less than this.
The emphasis is on setting by ability in particular subjects rather than streaming. There is every attempt to avoid early specialisation. There is a sixth form of some 200 taking A Level courses in all major academic subjects.
The majority of pupils take up places at Russell Group Universities, with about 5–6 places regularly offered by Oxford and Cambridge; whilst musicians are regularly awarded scholarships to the top music colleges each year.
Societies. There is a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities in which pupils must participate, although the choice is theirs. Outdoor education is an important part of the curriculum. Besides a Combined Cadet Force with Army, Navy and RAF sections and a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, activities as diverse as photography, sailing and golf are also on offer. Ballet and riding lessons can also be arranged.
Music. The school is one of four in England designated and grant-aided by the Department for Education (DfE) to provide special education for gifted young musicians, who are given substantial financial assistance. Wells is unique in that both specialist and non-specialist musicians are able to develop their aptitudes within a normal school environment. These talents are widely acknowledged by audiences at concerts given by pupils from Wells throughout the world.
There are over 200 talented pupils following specially devised timetables which combine advanced instrumental tuition and ensemble work with academic opportunity. More than half of the school learns at least one musical instrument. Violin and cello is taught to all children in the pre-prep as part of the curriculum. Pupils receive the highest quality teaching, often leading to music conservatoires and a career in music. Central to specialist music training are the opportunities to perform in public and there is a full concert diary. There are also regular concerts by the many ensembles in the school.
Fees: £7,819 - £10,488 (includes boarding fees)
Registration: 2 years prior to entry
The Head: Alastair Tighe
Famous Alumni: Mei Yi Foo, Michael Eavis, Iestyn Davies, Meeta Raval, Kris Marshall, Peter Baines, Danny Nightingale, Vikki Stone