Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College

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Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College
Welbeck DSFC logo 2.png
, ,
LE12 8WD

United Kingdom
Coordinates52°43′58″N 1°12′35″W / 52.732741°N 1.209821°W / 52.732741; -1.209821Coordinates: 52°43′58″N 1°12′35″W / 52.732741°N 1.209821°W / 52.732741; -1.209821
Other names
  • Welbeck College
  • Welbeck
Former namesWelbeck College (1953–2005)
TypeIndependent, boarding,
Sixth-form college
Established1953; 66 years ago (1953)
Closed2021 (expected)
Local authorityLeicestershire
Department for Education URN130784 Tables
Chair of GovernorsVice-Admiral Duncan Potts
PrincipalPeter Middleton
Age range16 to 19
Enrolment309 (2018)[1]
Campus size70 acres (280,000 m2)[2]
  • Alanbrooke
  • Nelson
  • Portland
  • Stirling
  • Trenchard
Colour(s)Purple and Yellow         
PublicationThe Welbexian
School fees£6,900 per term (2019/2020)[3]
AffiliationHeadmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
AlumniOld Welbexians

Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College, often referred to as Welbeck College, is an independent, selective sixth form college in Leicestershire, England.[4] It provides A-Level education for candidates to the technical branches of the British Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence civil service and privately funded students. It is funded by the Ministry of Defence. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), one of the conventional definitions of a public school.[5]

Prior to 2005 the college was known as Welbeck College and was based at Welbeck Abbey near Worksop in Nottinghamshire, where it provided an education for A-Level candidates planning to join the technical branches of the British Army,[6][7] Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Candidates for the defence engineering and science group were included in 2005. The college is due to close in 2021 after an announcement was made in the House of Commons on 11 March 2019.[8]


When founded in 1953, the college was housed in the grounds of Welbeck Abbey in the 20,000-acre (81 km2) estate of the family of the Duke of Portland. Until the mid-1990s, Welbeck only accepted male Army candidates. At any one time there would be 150 students in the college. There were two intakes each year: one in September (of 50 students) and the other in January (of 25 students), these were numbered sequentially: 1 Entry, 2 Entry, 3 Entry and so forth, odd numbers denoting September entries. Each entry was split into two houses, Harland and York, named after the original housemasters. Each house had a distinct character with different rules. "Harlanders" generally originated from northern England, south western England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and overseas, whilst "Yorkies" came from southern England.

Although located in a magnificent building with extensive grounds, the quality of living accommodation was lower than may be expected for sixth-form students at most other comparable establishments. The largest dormitory, Harland's "Dorm 3", held 13 students; many lessons were held in "glass corridor", an underground complex with numerous roof lights originally intended for horticultural purposes; and the lower sixth study areas (known as "the pits" or "cabins") consisted of two large underground rooms and a long corridor which were sub-divided by low partitions to provide each student with an individual work area and some degree of privacy. There was one television for each house and until 1990, a single public telephone to be shared by all students.

There was academic study six mornings a week (usually preceded by a service in the college's chapel), CCF one afternoon, sport on four afternoons, with academic tutorials filling the remaining time. Maths and physics A Level were compulsory, with a limited choice for the third subject. Double maths was the preferred option, followed by chemistry, electronics, technology and occasionally other subjects such as history. An additional A Level exam in general studies was introduced in the 1980s.

Assessment for entry to Welbeck was by a series of interviews, exams and practical tests over a period of three days at Westbury or York.

Little changed at Welbeck between 1953 and the mid-1990s. Following the retirement of the college's military Principal (Colonel Silvey) and replacement with a civilian (Ken Jones), the first major change occurred and the doors were opened to girls. The overall number of students at the college increased by about 30 and they formed a separate house known as 'School Lodge', being accommodated in the former sanatorium. The number of intakes was reduced from two per year to one.

Progression into the Army varied according to ability. Whilst it was possible for students to go straight to university, typically Cambridge, most went on to Sandhurst at the recommendation of the Headmaster. For a while in the 1980s and 90s, the decision was taken by an assessment board similar to the Regular Commissions Board. The outcome of this dictated whether students should attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst's Rowallan Company (now called the Sandhurst Development Course) or the commissioning course of the day. Occasionally, the headmaster would feel unable to recommend a particular student from moving on to Sandhurst. The assessment board process was dropped in the mid-1990s and the decision was made by the College Principal. As with Army Scholars (students whom the Army sponsored through their sixth-form studies at establishments other than Welbeck), the automatic entry to Sandhurst was not universally supported. As students had not attended the full Regular Commissions Board, some people argued that it was an 'easy option' to obtain a commission.

The Welbexian magazine records some of the history of Welbeck College, including the summary above. Some of these are available on the internet, as indicated in the References section.

In 2004 the first RAF and RN applicants were admitted, and in 2005 the first DESG applicants were admitted. It is possible to attend the college on the Welbeck Private Scheme where the full fees are paid and the student will board with and undertake the same training the sponsored students.


Candidates for DSFC are sponsored by the elements of the British Armed Forces or the MOD Civil Service, entry is predicated on having been selected as a potential officer candidate or technical civil servant.[citation needed] All candidates must be considered likely to succeed in a technical undergraduate course and will be funded through university and accepted into the sponsoring service.[citation needed]

Royal Navy[9] candidates are required to undergo the Admiralty Interview Board and are selected into the Engineer branch specialising in Weapon Systems, Marine Systems or Aviation. After undergraduate studies they will enter Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth for initial officer training. Up to 8 candidates per year are selected to become a direct entrant – allowing them to enter directly to BRNC Dartmouth, this is for non-engineering students.[citation needed]

Army[10] candidates make up the bulk of each Welbeck intake and are required to undergo the Army Officer Selection Board and are selected into a technical role; Royal Signals, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Engineers or the Royal Logistic Corps. After undergraduate studies they will enter Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for initial officer training.[citation needed]

Royal Air Force candidates are required to undergo selection at RAF College Cranwell Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre and enter as Engineer Officers. After undergraduate studies they will enter RAF College Cranwell for initial officer training.[citation needed]

Defence Engineering and Science Group students[11] attend a selection consisting of interviews and various planning exercises without the fitness aspect of the other selections. There are fewer places for DESG students (12–15 per year), and so fewer boards than the other forces.[citation needed]


A parade at Welbeck College

Welbeck DSFC provides a two-year programme of education and training leading to A-Level qualifications in preparation for university entry on the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme followed by entry to the Armed Forces or MOD. Academic work is complemented by leadership development inculcating a military ethos and an understanding of the purpose and structure of the British Armed Forces. While DSFC prepares candidates for technical branches the academic syllabus emphasises science and technical subjects, opportunities exist to study non-technical subjects in recognition that Officers in the Armed Forces are first and foremost officers rather than engineers.

First-year students study four subjects with all being required to study Mathematics and Physics. Other available subjects include: Chemistry, Biology, Electronics, Computing, Geography, Government & Politics, Business Studies, Design Engineering and Further Mathematics. Students also follow a course in Career Skills and the European Computer Driving Licence, which became compulsory starting in the 2009 entry.

Second-year students traditionally drop one subject and carry on three subjects through their A2 year and take up an enrichment subject ranging from Arabic and Mandarin to music. Mathematics is compulsory in the second years, and if Physics is dropped your university course choice becomes limited. It is also possible for students to continue with their four AS subjects into their second year or to replace one with an academic enrichment subject. Such enrichment options include: Further Mathematics AS, Business Studies, EPQ or a distance learning topic of their choice.


Students wear a variety of uniforms at Welbeck college.

The normal working college uniform is called "G-Kit" (General Kit). This consists of grey trousers (grey skirt for girls), a Wedgwood blue shirt with epaulettes, a tie (house, prefect, music or sporting), and black leather shoes.

The ties for G-Kit vary depending on the individual's house, rank, and if they hold a college position. Ties are also given for sporting merit (colours and half colours) and achievements in music.

The college blazer is only worn for formal occasions. This is called "College-Kit", and is worn with the college tie.

All students wear epaulettes with their year (designated by stripes) and service shown on them. The epaulettes worn by all prefects bear a white stripe in between the usual parallel purple stripes of non-prefect year 13 students.

On military training days, all students wear MTP combats with the welbeck stable belt and beret.

On Fridays the Royal Navy wear №3 dress, the Army wear barracks dress and the Royal Air Force wear №2 Dress. In hot weather, this consists of peaked hat and short-sleeved shirt, while in winter, this changes to long-sleeved shirt and black tie.

All members of the college are issued with Single Service Parade Dress. This is worn throughout the year at special occasions such as the Annual General Inspection, or the Remembrance Day ceremony for upper sixth.


Epaulettes are worn by student whilist in the College Kit, G-Kit, MTP and Service Uniform. It denotes their academic year and their seniority/position of authority they hold within the College.

Extracurricular activity[edit]

Combined Cadet Force[edit]

Four permanent military staff exists at DSFC to support military training for students. This military training is delivered through a Combined Cadet Force structure which is mandatory. Training occurs Twice per week each time for half the college

Cadets are taught everything from scratch, which allows students who have little or no military experience to pick up on the training. They are taught Drill, Fieldcraft, Ranks, Leadership and more.

At the end of Initial Training, there is an assessment of Military Knowledge, and a Drill Assessment. Successful completion of the above entitles cadets to wear the College Stable Belt in uniform.

Training for first-year students includes: hillwalking and navigation, military history, adventurous training and leadership.

Training for second-year students includes: Community service, battle PT, Officer skills and adventurous training.

Adventurous training[edit]

During the autumn term 1st year students are required to undertake a 72-hour field exercise to practise fieldcraft skills learned in the CCF ("Ex. Welbeck Start"). In the Easter term, they then go on another 72-hour field exercise – "(Ex. Welbeck Challenge") After A-Level Exams, students attend a 7-day course at HMS Collingwood consisting of leadership exercises, historic visits, PT and various other challenges, ("Ex Welbeck Leader" and "Ex Welbeck Trail"). Second year students undertake "Senior ex" (currently called "Ex. Welbeck Warrior"), a 3-day exercise in February, where the students themselves take command.


Teams include:

General Activities[edit]

General Activities (known as GA's by students and staff) is the equivalent of a regular sixth-form enrichment programme. The activities are non-academic and are aimed at developing a student's wider interests. GA's take place on a Monday afternoon during the Autumn and Spring Terms. Students can opt for a GA for the duration of one term. GA's available to students vary with the staffing make-up but may include additional sporting activities such as rowing or table tennis, or non-sporting activities such as ballroom dancing or tank restoration. Players for the First Teams of sports often use this time to complete additional training.

School buildings and sites[edit]


Students are accommodated in one of five boarding houses named after significant figures in British military history and the history of the college: Alanbrooke, Nelson, Portland, Stirling, and Trenchard.

In their first year at the college, the students are placed into three-man rooms. These rooms are swapped around regularly, allowing students to bond, and develop friendships. While these bedrooms are meant to have wifi access, the truth is that there is no access for external devices such as phones or tablets.

Upon returning to their second year at the college, the Upper Sixth students are given their own study bedrooms, with an en-suite shower room.

Sport facilities[edit]

Welbeck puts a heavy emphasis on physical education to help prepare students for their later careers. Facilities include a swimming pool, sport fields and various indoor and outdoor courts and gymnasia. The college also has a climbing wall and obstacle course

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ISI Report" (PDF). dsfc.ac.uk/. Independent Schools Inspectorate. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Former pupils condemn government decision to shut Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College". leicestermercury.co.uk/. Leicestershire Live. 12 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Private student fees". dsfc.ac.uk/. Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  4. ^ Welbeck College Independent Schools International Website
  5. ^ "Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College". hmc.org.uk/. Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  6. ^ Old Welbeck College closes
  7. ^ Duchess of Gloucester opens Welbeck
  8. ^ Martin, Dan (11 March 2019). "Shock Government decision to axe Welbeck Sixth Form Defence College, near Loughborough". leicestermercury.co.uk. Leicestershire Live. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  9. ^ Royal Navy entrance requirements
  10. ^ Army entrance requirements
  11. ^ British Civil Service

External links[edit]