ANTHONY Seldon, a biographer of Tony Blair, a guru in happiness and the master of the private school Wellington College, is moving full steam ahead in his ambition to establish a network of Academy schools.
Wellington has already opened one college, Wellington Academy, with the help of a £2m donation from the ex-Goldman Sachs partner Tim Bunting. Now it has hired James O’Shaughnessy), David Cameron’s former head of policy, to help take the project on to the next stage.
Wellington wants to establish a network of Academy schools in the state sector.
Says Seldon, who is famous for his opinions about the search for happiness: “Our goal is to create a group of Academy and international schools with Wellington College at its heart and its inspiration, bound together by our unique ethos of very high academic achievement combined with holistic education.
“Governments believe you can have either academic standards or holistic education – we say you can have both, and our results prove it.”
Seldon doesn’t only have financial backing from an ex-Goldmanite. He is also blessed with a City veteran chairing his school’s board of governors, Sir Mike Rake.
Sir Mike probably finds Wellington easier to chair than easyJet where the former KPMG chairman has got the airline’s founder constantly breathing down his neck, querying his colleagues’ pay and bonus deals relentlessly.
Says Sir Mike: “British business needs now more than ever young people who have had their young characters and intellect developed in an environment such as Wellington College.”
It’s not clear whether this sort of character building includes pupils at the new schools being encouraged to stand on their heads each day while they practise yoga as Seldon is wont to do.
Seldon won’t say whether the standing upside down commitment is a prerequisite to attending one of his schools (we assume it isn’t) but he does tell the Capitalist that everyone should do yoga.