The Venerable Bede CE Secondary School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Venerable Bede CE Secondary School's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Venerable Bede CE Secondary School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Executive head teacher of the
Dayspring Trust, Gill Booth, with
head teacher of Venerable Bede,
David Airey and Josh Waddell –
the current world number one
U17 men’s épée champion
Harry enjoyed handing over a rucksack
filled with presents to his new friend in
Lesotho, including his own football shirts!
Venerable Bede CE Academy is one of two secondary
schools in the Dayspring Trust, a multi-academy trust in
the Diocese of Durham. Their trust’s mission statement
sums up their vision for education, namely: to forge a supportive
and challenging family of schools; to provide excellent education
within a strong Christian community; to resource their students
for wise and generous living; and, importantly, to promote a
sense of togetherness. In abiding by these principles with genuine
seriousness, the school has received consistently good outcomes
and favourable Ofsted ratings. Describing in more detail how
exactly this is achieved is executive head teacher, Gill Booth.
Although being part of a trust, we also pride ourselves on keeping the
distinctiveness of each academy and, for Venerable Bede, that is to create a
stimulating, secure and caring environment in which each child can reach their
potential and soar to the heights together – “together”, in this instance, being a
key word, as it was added to our mission statement in 2010 after consulting with
all stakeholders, emphasising our focus on inclusivity and servant leadership.
As our ethos and vision statement above demonstrates, we are an inclusive
neighbourhood school. In interviews, one of our key questions when appointing
new staff is whether they will embrace our ethos. Working “together” is
pivotal to our vision as acknowledged in our 2017 SIAMS (Statutory Inspection
of Anglican and Methodist Schools) Report in which we maintained our
“outstanding” judgment in all areas: “Both staff and pupils value that they are
journeying in partnership” and “servant, ethical leadership is deeply embedded”.
»Executive head teacher:
»Head teacher: David Airey
»Founded in 2002
»Based in Ryhope, Sunderland
»Type of school: Church of
England 11-16 comprehensive
»No. of students: 845
»Free school meals (FSM):
28per cent
»SEN: 20 per cent
»Ofsted: “Good” in all
categories, May 2016
»SIAMS rating: “Outstanding”
in all categories, June 2017
»REQM (RE Quality Mark):
Gold, July 2016
Venerable Bede CE
Wevaluethegifts that each child and
adult brings to the academy, looking
for different ways for everyone to
achieve their potential.
In 2016, Ofsted judged us once again
as a “good” school, commenting on
the “strong and sustained progress” of
our pupils and how “lessons are typified
by positive, respectful relationships
and purposeful learning”. Additionally,
they recognised through the work
in pupils’ books that “teachers have
high expectations across the whole
curriculum”. Sincethen, standards
across the academy have risen further
with results in English, in particular,
showing significant improvement with
62 per cent of pupils attaining the new
levels 9-5. Last year, we were delighted
when one of our pupils, Kristin
Hindmarch, achieved all A* grades
and the new level 9 in English, English
literature and mathematics, placing her
in the top two per cent of the country.
Behaviour for learning has also
continued to improve significantly since
the previous inspection with a focus
on developing a thirst for learning
and resilience. The number of external
exclusions remains well below national
average. This is partly because we
have invested heavily – both financially
and strategically – in an approach
that supports pupils before reaching
a crisis point. Our Learning Zone not
only provides pupils with support
for their learning, but staff are also
trained to run sessions to guide pupils
through any issues and encourage
self-reflection. In an age when mental
health is a key focus nationally, this is
more important than ever.
Yet there are many challenges for
our young people in a school that
sits between two ex-mining villages
where unemployment has been high
and aspirations can, therefore, be low.
Nationally, the gap in achievement
for pupils eligible for pupil premium
is high at secondary level and, with
over 29 per cent of our pupils being
eligible for pupil premium, some pupils
face particular challenges. We provide
a free breakfast which so far has
served over 33,000 meals! As well as
supporting pupils confidentially with
uniform and equipment, we also focus
on raising their aspirations through
a structured careers programme.
Our careers fair and links with local
businesses widen aspirations. Recently,
we have made links with Oxnet, a
network that links our school with the
Oxbridge universities.
Our unique sculpture
captures our vision, as
well as the blueprint of
our building’s design
Giving time to support
God’s Love Orphanage
was both an emotional
and rewarding
experience for Louise
Highlighting best practice
Developing pupil leadership
It has been proven that those who
are trusted to make decisions and
lead projects when young go on
to be more successful and happier
adults. We offer a wide range of
opportunities: fair trade ambassadors,
RE ambassadors, creative technical
team and “Sportability”. We recently
won an anti-bullying award where
pupils joined together to tackle the
issue of cyber safety, demonstrating
the impact that our young people can
have. Through a broad and balanced
curriculum, pupils are encouraged
to be tolerant and to respect one
another’s opinions. Testifying to this,
we were awarded the REQM (RE
Quality Mark) Gold for the second time
last year, by showing how collective
worship and excellent teaching explore
and underpin our ethos.
Pupils at Venerable Bede demonstrate
a wide range of strengths and skills in
the arts and in sports. We believe that
all of our young people should utilise
the different gifts that they have.
Nowhere is this more evident than in
the achievement of Joshua Waddell,
year 10, who aims to participate in the
2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. He
recently returned from a wheelchair
fencing competition in Hungary
where he competed in both the foil
and épée; Josh was presented with a
trophy naming him as the U17 men’s
épée world number one – a fantastic
achievement! Moreover, Josh fits
in his training with his studies – an
inspiration to us all. The whole school
is fundraising to help Josh achieve
his dream, demonstrating our ethos
This can also be seen in our academy’s
visit to Lesotho, southern Africa – now
in its tenth year. Many of Lesotho’s
children are orphans due to the HIV
virus. Our pupils support them by
running respite camps, helping in
the orphanage and visiting schools.
Although we can only send 14 pupils
a year, everyone supports the venture
by fundraising to raise the £2,000 it
takes to send each pupil. The use of
social media during the trip is powerful
in developing the understanding,
tolerance and empathy of not only our
pupils, but also parents and the wider
community to the challenges facing
the Basotho people. One of our pupils
described it as “life changing: it puts
our own issues into perspective”. This
year, we developed the partnership
further by supporting fellow teachers.
The chair of Dayspring Trust and I
joined the trip, leading a workshop for
over 125 Basotho head teachers and
supporting in individual schools.
We also believe in investing in staff
development. With staff recruitment
and retention being one of the main
challenges in education today, we
want to celebrate teachers and support
staff alike. And all of this is only
possible if we abide by our core values,
principal among which is togetherness.
By keeping this up, we can expect
to raise yet more generations of
socially, morally and economically
competentyoung people.
Through a
broad and
pupils are
encouraged to
be tolerant
and to respect
one another’s
Venerable Bede pupils
enjoy the awe and
wonder of science!

This article was sponsored by The Venerable Bede CE Secondary School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy