It is my great privilege to be Head of Wells Cathedral Senior School, a school with a rich and long history, whilst very much looking to the future. Wells is a school made up of many ingredients which, at its core, holds the belief that our purpose is to enable all students to truly ‘be what they are’. So whether someone wants to be a chorister; pursue the creative arts; follow an academic path; take their sport to the next level; become a specialist mathematician; take on outdoor adventures; become a world-class musician; or something completely different, then Wells is a place where they can do this in a supportive and caring environment.
This page describes some of the many opportunities that our school offers, although it can never fully capture the unique atmosphere that makes Wells what it is. We hope you will visit us to see for yourself why so many people believe, like I do, that Wells is such a special place!
Andy Kemp, Head of Senior School & Vice Principal
At Wells we aim to provide all students with a family environment within a kind and caring community where they can be happy, healthy and, most importantly, who they are. With the houses situated in the heart of the school, this warm atmosphere extends into the day to day life of every student making Wells not just a school but a home.
Our purpose is to ensure all members of our community have a sense of belonging and are contented, balanced and confident individuals who have the necessary tools to live safe, joyful and fulfilling lives. We understand growing up is a learning process – young adults will make mistakes and need to be allowed to learn from them in a safe, supportive environment. We seek to make sure that all members of the community have a high level of spiritual awareness, emotional intelligence and self control and are also active and responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to the school and the wider world.
We achieve our aims through having a strong set of values and beliefs and a culture of learning around pastoral care. Our pastoral professional development programme continually raises the standard of our staff expertise, and our staff working parties look into the latest research and best practice. We have an extensive PSHE programme that invites input from high calibre speakers, and we involve pupils in developing their own well-being initiatives.
Available to each student is a team of dedicated staff, which includes tutors, houseparents, heads of year, professional counsellors, qualified nurses and doctors and an assistant head responsible for pastoral care whose primary role is to support students through the challenges that growing up presents. Having such a range of staff available to help with anything and everything ensures each student has someone they can trust to turn to if they need it. We believe that we must work in close partnership with parents to ensure each child can develop into their best self. We seek to initiate and always welcome frequent, open and honest communication.
The school chefs provide three cooked meals a day, including a vegetarian option and salad bar in a modern, airy dining hall. Older students may also use the separate snack bar which provides healthy snack options when schedules become hectic. The dining hall is a place for students to meet and enjoy healthy fresh food and catch up with friends. Students have access to their houses throughout the day, and they can make toast and sandwiches in the house kitchens.
Our broad curriculum allows all students to develop skills and interests. This enables them to make appropriate choices as they progress to the Upper School and their GCSE options. Students study Art, Classics, English, French, Geography, History, Maths, Music, Religious Studies, Science and PSHE together with a course exploring a range of technology subjects. Students also can study a choice of German, Spanish and Italian.
We recognise that all pupils need a proper balance of recreation and physical exercise so we also include sport, integrated arts (consisting of art, music, drama and dance), as well as less conventional outdoor education pursuits.
Choristers and specialist musicians work together in dedicated forms following individually tailored learning programmes.
We personalise your learning to follow a curriculum at a pace and in a direction that suits your needs and plays to your strengths but pushes you to reach your potential. We give you more freedom than lower school students and encourage you to take responsibility for developing your own interests and skills within clear structures.
In the upper school, pupils prepare for their GCSE examinations. You can choose three GCSE options in addition to the core subjects of Mathematics, English language and literature, a modern foreign language (usually from French, German or Spanish), Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and Religious Studies. This provides a comprehensive platform so your options are open when you come to choosing your A Levels.
All pupils follow a PSHE course, and take part in the varied sport, PE and outdoor education programme.
If you would like to find out more information about studying GCSE’s at Wells, please read our online handbook.
Our Sixth Form gives students the inspiration and independence that they crave along with the flexibility and vast range of opportunities needed to help them meet their potential. The curriculum caters both for those who want breadth and variety of academic possibilities and for those requiring depth and intensity. We vary our subject choices across the traditional divisions of the arts, sciences and humanities on demand. Musicians can adopt a flexible programme, which allows them more time for music practice and performance.
Having reviewed alternatives (including the International Baccalaureate), we believe that the A Levels together with the opportunity to work for the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) provide the best structure for both specialisation and breadth for our students.
We offer a broad and flexible range of subjects, tailored to the needs of our students. This means the final subjects on offer in any particular year will vary depending on their interests. Please see below for our current A-level subjects on offer. In recent years this has meant the addition of subjects such as Film Studies, History of Art, Classical Civilisations and Politics. Please contact us if you would be interested in studying something other than what is currently on offer, and we’d be delighted to explore your request further, subject to demand and resources.
Wells also provides a full and rich programme around and beyond academic choices. All pupils study PSHE, life skills and take part in a regular enrichment programme of visiting talks through our DeWinton Series. We also encourage you to commit to a range of other activities, such as music, sport, drama, public speaking, Combined Cadet Force, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, community service and many others.
With all the opportunities on offer, many parents (and sixth formers) worry about the possibility of overload! We find that careers advice and tutor consultation are vital, and we ensure that students enjoy a range of co-curricular activities and non-academic commitments alongside their programme of academic education.
Classics: Classical Civilisations
Government and Politics
Philosophy & Ethics (RPE)
If you would like to find out more information about our Sixth Form, please read our online prospectus.
We award academic scholarships worth up to 10% of fees to talented young students. Please see this page for more information and how to apply.
Children at Wells are enthusiastic, creative, and open minded. They achieve amazing results.
John Dyer (Internationally renowned painter and Wells parent)
It is through art, music, dance and drama that students develop attributes needed to succeed in all walks of life – such as self confidence, teamwork, passion, reflection and risk taking.
Based on our emphasis on the creative arts, Arts Council England has awarded us the prestigious Artsmark Gold award, which has only been achieved by a handful of independent schools.
We give all students of all ages and levels – even those who might not consider themselves as ‘naturally creative’ – the confidence and opportunities to perform in a variety of styles, ranging from street dance to acting in Shakespearean plays.
Our students in Years 7, 8 and 9 investigate music, art, dance, photography, food studies and drama in cross-curricular projects as part of our integrated arts programme. As well as pursuing individual creative arts subjects to GCSE and A level, all our upper school students have the opportunity to work side by side with those specialising in a creative arts field.
We enhance our curriculum with workshops (which have previously included Indonesian shadow puppets, African drumming and storytelling and master classes with internationally renowned artists and actors) and trips to London galleries and theatres, university lectures, Stratford, Bristol, Bath and even overseas.
Because of this approach to creative arts, our pupils have achieved excellent results as they pursued their Lamda, Gold, Silver and Bronze Arts Awards.
Pupils can join in with our art club and can explore life drawing, photography, community art and graphic design. Our pupils’ work have been displayed in various public exhibitions.
We offer individual and group dance lessons in ballet, modern, jazz, tap and street.
Our varied programme of opportunities ranges from the classics to the eclectic. In addition to their drama lessons and drama activity, Lower School pupils can participate in the Lower School Production, Drama Club or the Shakespeare School’s Festival. Senior School students can audition for the Senior School Production. Our recent musicals have ranged from works written and composed by our own teachers to our recent production of Les Miserables, attended by Sir Cameron Mackintosh.
Our House Drama competition ‘The Bigny Cup’, and smaller ‘Fringe’ productions that run throughout the year ensure that all have the opportunity to perform.
For all pupils, we offer individual, pair or group tuition in both Speech and Drama and Musical Theatre as well as an extensive programme of theatre visits and professional theatre workshops.
Lower School Production of Arabian Nights
Wells Little Theatre
Senior School Production of Les Miserables
Alongside the specialist tuition available, everyone with an interest in music can go as far as talent and application take them. Pupils may join any of the larger ensembles and choirs, and may be offered special provision status if they show sufficient ability and motivation.
We award scholarships worth up to 10% of fees to young people who are talented in the creative arts. Please see this page for more information about our creative arts scholarship and how to apply.
It’s fantastic working with the Wells Cathedral Staff and pupils. They are pioneering an empowering approach to developing innovative, problem solving, self sufficient learners.
Brian Ashton, former England Rugby Head Coach and our current Sports Mentor
Team sports are a core part of our sporting programme. In years 7-9 these are focused around the main sports of rugby, hockey, netball, cricket and tennis, but from year 10 upwards, students may choose from a wider range of sports. All students are encouraged to take advantage of our additional sports clubs and activities and are given opportunities to experience basketball, badminton, football, volleyball, swimming, water polo, climbing, weights and fitness, fencing and dance.
We offer a competitive fixture list across sports. Some of our pupils compete at school and county level, and some are even chosen to represent Great Britain. Our aim is to give support, training and advice wherever we can to help these students follow an elite pathway.
Every term pupils compete for house trophies. All members of the school are encouraged to take part in these and everyone has a healthy competitive spirit for the house championships.
Our extensive sports facilities include a sports hall with a fitness suite, a covered swimming pool, an astroturf pitch used for hockey in the winter and tennis in the summer, hard court tennis facilities and three playing fields: Bekynton, Tor and Cedars, the latter of which has one of the best cricket squares in the county.
Former England Rugby Head Coach & Player. Currently mentors coaches from Man Utd, Man City and Everton, amongst others.
Professional rugby player for Harlequins and England Saxons
Professional rugby player for Harlequins and England Saxons
Sports Psychologist for the England cricket side who won the Ashes in 2005 before going on to work for Team GB in the Olympics
We strongly believe that our sport and physical activity programme develops character qualities that are essential throughout life because we encourage all our students to:
We award sports scholarships worth up to 10% of fees to talented young athletes. Please see this page for more information and how to apply.
Our outdoor learning programme includes activities such as orienteering, rock climbing, archery, hill walking and caving.
Our newly-built indoor climbing facility provides challenging routes for both novice and experienced climbers. Our staff hold Mountain Training Association qualifications to deliver climbing indoors and outdoors on crags near to Wells at Split Rock and Cheddar Gorge.
Our school grounds and nearby sites have been mapped for orienteering, and we enter a team in the Avon Schools Orienteering League.
We are one of only 257 schools in the UK with a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) contingent, which is a unique educational partnership. Through enjoyable military-themed and adventurous activities, our cadets have the opportunity to take responsibility and develop skills, such as leadership, self-reliance, resourcefulness, endurance and perseverance. Our CCF is an optional activity, and alternative opportunities are available for those who would prefer not to take part.
The CCF is not part of the UK Armed Forces. While adult volunteers and cadets do wear uniform, they do not incur any liability for service or compulsory training in the Armed Forces as a result of being a CCF member.
Our contingent is presently 110 cadets strong with five commissioned officers and one warrant officer. We are privileged to have an Army and Royal Air Force Section as well as a Corp of Drums.
If you take a cross section of the most prominent people in Britain today, you’d be surprised how many of them were once cadets, such as the Dean of Westminster, the novelist Sebastian Faulks, Chris Martin from Coldplay, David Walliams, Jeremy Irons, Tom Lucy (Olympic Silver Medallist in rowing in the 2008 Games), Jamie Hickman (the Olympic and Commonwealth Gold Medal swimmer), and Len Deighton (author of ‘The Ipcress File’). This list is from www.gov.uk
The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE Award) is optional and entirely voluntary. Students can enter the DofE Award at three levels: Bronze, Silver or Gold. They achieve a DofE Award by completing a personal programme of activities in four sections. They’ll find themselves doing activities such as helping people in the community, getting fitter, developing skills and going on an expedition.
We offer Bronze in Year 9, Silver in Year 10 and Gold in Year 12. The majority of participants enter at Bronze in Year 9, but a smaller number do enter at Silver or Gold.
Our full-time careers and universities adviser talks to all students entering the sixth form to ensure they are happy with their course choices and works closely with them as they begin to think about universities and careers.
We organise an information morning with talks from admissions tutors and former students from universities towards the end of Year 12. Our adviser organises visits to university open days, UCAS fairs, Oxford and Cambridge Colleges as well as practice interviews and work experience.
We have a very honest and open process in which parents are encouraged to participate fully, and our adviser is available for individual appointments if parents or pupils would like to discuss anything. This support continues through to results day and beyond as students confirm their choices or even change their minds!
Most of our students progress to some form of higher education, many with places to top Russell Group universities. In 2015, we had four places for students to study at Cambridge University and two places for students to study at Oxford University. Please see the following list for more information: