From entrance papers to GCSEs, A-Levels and beyond, exams are a fact of life for students up and down the country. But how do schools prepare young people for the trials and tribulations of testing and how important are good grades to future success? We spoke to Abrilli Phillip, executive headteacher at Wiltshire’s The Wellington Academy, to find out…

Abrilli Phillip, executive headteacher at The Wellington Academy

How did your most recent crop of exam age students fare?
We as an academy are pleased with our results in the summer, in light of the unpredictability of the outcomes as a result of national changes to curricula and the introduction of the new grading system for English and maths.

The academy was the best attaining school for pupils achieving the new grades 9 to 4 and 9 to 5 in English and maths amongst all local secondaries.

We are particularly proud of the significant proportion of post 16 students going to university with our highest on record at 71%, with 20% off to Russell group Universities.

We still have some way to go in ensuring our pupils make the best progress in ebacc subjects (science, humanities and languages) however for yet another year, performance in vocational and technical subjects was strong.

Beyond grades, how do you measure “success” in the classroom?
We are strong believers that the best intervention takes place in the classroom and unlike many schools, avoid pulling our pupils in many directions for after-school revision and last minute catch up.

We use an extensive formative assessment system which ensures learning is monitored closely by staff and lessons used to fill gaps quickly.

How do you put students at ease during the exam season?
We monitor the mental health of our pupils and even go as far as to provide breakfast on the mornings of exams and ice lollies on hot days.

Find out more about The Wellington Academy at

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