In the United Kingdom, over the last few years Wellington College has enjoyed the sharpest rise up the exam result league tables of any comparable school. The reasons for this remarkable rise cannot merely be attributed, however, to narrowly focusing on teaching and learning.
Ed Venables, Stanley Housemaster at Wellington College UK, recently visited Wellington College Shanghai to talk about the pastoral techniques used in boarding houses (where some of the students reside during the week) for young people reach their full academic potential while also developing a sense of self-awareness.
At all the Wellington schools, this is achieved primarily through ‘coaching’ pupils. Coaching allows pupils to discover their values, to develop skills to be stronger and more efficient solvers of their problems throughout life. Most importantly, this approach removes the two-dimensional approach of teachers telling pupils what they should do or how they should react in any given situation. The desired result is achieved through teachers nurturing a good relationship with the students, using effective questions and good listening skills.
Coaching is about enabling teachers and parents to find a dialogue that removes judgment and ceases to impose outcomes, but rather requires others to analyse and to think pro-actively in finding their own solutions. Too often support of young people is wrongly labelled as a soft option of ‘saying yes’ or ‘being kind’. Support and coaching must be robust, challenging and demanding, too. Used well they fuel that vital spark of self-motivation.
Those techniques have generated and underpinned the success of the Wellington College in the UK and are being replicated here, in Wellington College Shanghai. One of the key strands that runs through each of the Wellington schools is outstanding pastoral care which lies at the heart of the Wellington philosophy.