Wellington School, Ayr

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Wellington School
Craigweil Road

, ,

TypeIndependent day school
Religious affiliation(s)Non-denominational Christian
ChairmanJ Simpson
Age3 to 18
HousesChurchill, Curie, Montgomery and Nightingale
Colour(s)blue, purple, red and yellow
PublicationThe Turret

Wellington School is an independent day school in Ayr, Scotland. The school was founded in 1849 as a school for girls, today the co-educational school provides both primary and secondary education between its Junior and Senior Schools for around 580 pupils between the ages of three and eighteen years. Wellington School generally draws its pupils from across Ayrshire.

Wellington School is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status (Scottish Charity Number SC005052), its Charitable Purpose is the Advancement of Education.


Founded in 1836 by Mrs Gross, a French lady and wife of an Ayr Academy school master, the school took its name from Wellington Square in Ayr where it was housed. Initially twelve 'young ladies of quality' were taught French, History, Art, Music and Elocution. By the turn of the century the school was bought by Miss Smith and Miss Cay, who added an adjoining house and enhanced its academic reputation. The school left 22 Wellington Square and moved to Carleton Turrets, Seafield in 1923 when under the ownership of Miss Carter.

The school was threatened with closure in 1948, on the retirement of Miss Carter, but this was averted by the intervention of a group of parents who bought the school and later formed it into a private company limited by guarantee. Since then it has continued as an independent school.[1] In the initial post-war period the school catered to some younger boys as well as girls. Then, during the 1960s the school expanded from Carleton Turrets, acquiring Westfield for boarders, Sleaford for juniors and Hartfield for nursery and kindergarten.[2]

Until 1994 Wellington School remained a girls boarding and day school. Over the following fifteen years the school underwent a series of major changes including the cessation of boarding, a change to co-education and the purchase and development of new buildings and sporting facilities. In August 1996 the school merged with the Mossblown-based preparatory school Drumley House. The merged school formed the only independent school in Ayrshire, consolidated to a single campus in Ayr.[3] The Wellington Campus now consists of three turreted buildings in a seafront location within Seafield, a residential part of the town of Ayr. The school has playing fields on the outskirts of the town.[4]


The Senior School is housed between Carleton Turrets and Craigweil House and the integrated Junior School (Nursery, Infant and Primary stages) are accommodated across Blackburn Road within Drumley House. These buildings are a series of three large adjacent villas in Craigweil Road, all executed in 1879 to a common Scottish Baronial style by the same architect, John Murdoch.[5] They are all two-storey with an attic on an asymmetrical-plan, with single storey ancillary buildings and attic service wings:

  • Drumley House, is a Category B Listed Building at 2 Westfield Road,[6] previously known as Westfield House.[7]
  • Carelton Turrets, is a Category C Listed Building at 1 Craigweil Road.[8]
  • Craigweil House, is a Category B Listed Building at 3 Craigweil Road.[9]

These villas have been modified and extended to create the modern school, including a series of new buildings including new teaching areas and upgraded support spaces.[10] Design work for a new Study Centre and Library at Craigweil House was underway in 2011, with the submission of a full planning application then anticipated early in 2012.[11] In 2015 the school acquired Craigweil Lodge, lying between Carleton Turrets and Craigweil House, securing a contiguous landholding on the west side of Craigweil Road for the Senior School.[12]

The school has its own playing fields and pavilion at Doonside, near Alloway on the outskirts of town. The Wellington Outdoor Nursery is also based at Doonside. Opened on 1 November 2011 by Ms Angela Constance MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, it is run in partnership with South Ayrshire Council.[13]

School body[edit]

The school has a roll of 583 day pupils (272 boys, 311 girls) across an age range of 3 to 18. Of this, the Senior School 12-18 amounts to some 291 pupils (141 boys, 150 girls). The teaching staff (53 full-time, 9 part-time) is led by Simon Johnson, in post as Headmaster since 2015. He was educated at Cambridge University and Moray House; previously he held the post of Assistant Rector at the Dollar Academy.[14][15]

Pupils’ outcomes & destinations[edit]

At Higher grade examinations in 2014, Senior 5 pupils achieved a pass rate of 92.6% - the A Grade pass rate of 49.3%.[16] The Senior 6 Advanced Higher results, with 96.4% achieving grades A to C, placed the school 2nd in Scotland,[17] taking only A to B grades this placed them 7th in the 'Top 30 Scottish Schools doing Advanced Highers for 2014'.[18]

In total 97% of sixth form leavers go on to a degree course, some after a gap year. 9% take courses in medicine, dentistry etc., 28% in science and engineering, 23% in humanities and social sciences, 11% in law, 28% in management and accountancy.

Co-curricular activities[edit]

The school has a wide range of clubs and other activities and was awarded the British Council’s Full International School Award during 2011. Some 75% of pupils learn a musical instrument while the main team sports are hockey for girls and rugby for boys. Participation in the John Muir Award, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and foreign trips and exchanges is encouraged.


The most recent HMIE inspection was in September 2010.[19] At this time for the school they assessed Improvements in performance, Learners experiences and Meeting learning needs all at the Very Good level. HMIE noted two particular strengths: The High levels of attainment and impressive breadth of achievement on the part of children and young people and The quality of support for learners with additional needs and the very good progress made by them.

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator[edit]

In May 2013 the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator inquiry report determined that the school had failed the charity test and directed them to ensure they passed it by increasing its spend on means-tested assistance by 31 October 2014. The same report acknowledged the school provided a significant level of benefit for which it makes little or no charge. However, this activity, combined with the low expenditure on means-tested bursary support, was not substantial enough to mitigate the level of fees charged. At the start of May 2014 OSCR announced its revised decision on the charitable status of a fee-charging school,[20] confirming that it had now met the charity test in part through a higher expenditure on means-tested bursary support. Wellington School retained its charitable status.

Notable former pupils[edit]

Note all these former pupils attended either Drumley House or Wellington School, prior to their merger in 1996 that formed the current school.


  1. ^ Dunford, J 1968 'Wellington School, Ayr' in Scottish Field
  2. ^ Strawhorn, J., 1989, The History of Ayr, pp. 245-257
  3. ^ "Private schools agree on merger". The Herald (Glasgow). 28 November 1995. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  4. ^ "History - Wellington School Ayr". Wellingtonschool.org. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Dictionary of Scottish Architects - DSA Architect Biography Report (September 27, 2015, 9:37 am)". web.archive.org. 27 September 2015. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015.
  6. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "2 WESTFIELD ROAD, WELLINGTON SCHOOL INCLUDING GATEPIERS, GATES, RAILINGS AND BOUNDARY WALL (Category B Listed Building) (LB21824)". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Merger meets challenge to Ayrshire's independent schools". The Herald (Glasgow). 22 March 1996. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  9. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "3 CRAIGWEIL ROAD, CRAIGWEIL HOUSE INCLUDING GATEPIERS AND BOUNDARY WALL (Category B Listed Building) (LB21558)". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  10. ^ "wellington House, Ayrshire - Education - Project Gallery - ARPL Architects". Arpl.co.uk. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Wellington (Ayr) - Junior and Senior Mixed Independent School - Scotland - Guide to Independent Schools". Guidetoindependentschools.com. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "UK School League Tables - Best Schools". Best-schools.co.uk. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Media" (PDF). Web.archive.org. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  21. ^ "John Beattie". Times Educational Supplement. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Nicola Benedetti: My best teacher". Tes. 6 September 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  23. ^ "Some former pupils show the way". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  24. ^ "Rhona Simpson | Legacy 2014". web.archive.org. 14 November 2014. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014.
  25. ^ "The Rt Hon Desmond Swayne TD MP". Gov.uk. 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  26. ^ Martin, Lorna (9 January 2005). "The Observer Profile: Kirsty Wark". Theguardian.co.uk. Retrieved 10 October 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°27′15″N 4°38′27″W / 55.45417°N 4.64083°W / 55.45417; -4.64083