Bede’s School is delighted to have been recognised once again by The Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA), this year for its work with vulnerable children.
One of Bede’s underpinning values is to create a sense of belonging for its pupils and community. With this in mind, Bede’s has been working alongside its local authority offering bursary funded weekly boarding places for Looked After Children (LAC) for over a decade. This significant milestone presented Bede’s Assistant Head: Boarding, Paul Juniper, with the perfect opportunity to undertake a detailed, statistical review of the programme.
Current pupils who are part of the programme were asked to rate their experience across a range of measures. The research indicated that despite the additional challenges experienced by LAC, they felt the same degree of belonging to Bede’s as other boarding pupils. Many of them highlighted their happiness with their choice to join Bede’s as well as how well understood they felt by staff and other students.
Bede's are able to achieve a strong sense of community and belonging by providing pupils with the opportunity to connect with their peers through a varied academic and co-curricular programme, as well as a tight-knit house system. There are a number of events throughout the academic year which raise the school spirit including colour runs, house competitions and house charity fundraising activities.
In the ten years during which Bede’s has been supporting the LAC programme, 22 children have so far joined the school. As well as those who are still currently studying at Bede’s, 14 have already left with the equivalent of three A levels or more and a university offer. The vast majority of pupils also achieved considerable success at university.
The research indicated that a significant number of LAC had successfully applied to become prefects and represented the school in a range of sports.
When discussing his study Paul Juniper commented, “The ten year anniversary of Bede’s LAC programme seemed like the obvious opportunity to review our work, using a measure which is particularly pertinent to our values. Creating a sense of belonging is central to everything we do and, having conducted this research, I feel more confident than ever that this very special group of young people whom we are privileged to have had in our care, feel that they truly belong at Bede’s, just as much as other students who may have led more privileged lives. I look forward to welcoming more Looked After Children to Bede’s in the coming years, continuing to support those currently in our care as well as enjoying the success of those who have moved on to university or to forge successful careers.”
This is not the first time that Bede’s has been recognised by the BSA for its superb care working with vulnerable children. In 2018, Bede’s won the ‘BSA Working with Vulnerable Children Award’ - once again highlighting the success of the LAC programme.
In 2021, Bede’s won the ‘BSA Supporting International Boarders Award’, which was presented for Bede’s Assistant Head Sachin Choithramani’s “on the ground” supervision of 20 pupils in Hong Kong during their quarantine period over the Christmas break in December 2020. Mr Choithramani flew with the pupils back to Hong Kong and provided daily support for them as they accessed the school’s remote learning programme and of course, helped keep spirits up during the challenging two week period.
In 2022, Bede’s Assistant Head Alex Lowe was presented with the ‘BSA Best New INDEX Leadership Award’. Since her appointment to the position of Assistant Head: Pupil Welfare in 2020, Miss Lowe has become a thought leader, not just within Bede’s, but nationally. She has proved herself to be a force of nature, determined by a purpose to ensure every child and employee of Bede’s truly belongs. She was instrumental in embedding the Steer AS Tracking system within Bede’s, working with children from Year 6 up to Year 13, developing systems to ensure every child belongs regardless of their challenges.
Bede’s Headmaster and CEO, Peter Goodyer, is thrilled with the news of Bede’s latest win. He comments, “It is wonderful for our school to once again be recognised by the BSA for our inclusivity, acceptance and a sense of belonging which our community works incredibly hard to ensure is felt by all of its members. A huge thank you to Paul Juniper for his tireless efforts in producing a fascinating study with some incredibly rewarding results and to Andrew Carroll who has driven this programme from the start.”