St Bede’s opened in September 1976 as the World’s first joint Church of England and Roman Catholic School (founded at the same time as St Cuthbert Maine school in Plymouth). With the support of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops, St Joseph’s RC Secondary School and Bishop Simpson Church of England Girls’ School united to become the single Church Secondary school for the area. Always seeking to develop, St Bede’s moved to welcome children from Free Church families as well as Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Local Free Churches are represented on our Governing Body, making us the only “officially” fully ecumenical Church school in the world. We are the only educational establishment to be formally recognised as a “local ecumenical project” by Churches Together in England.
In November 1988, the Bishops laid the foundation stone for new buildings that would bring all the school onto its present site (until then, part of the school was on Frenches Road). During 1999 the school saw a further major building programme to provide new accommodation for Science and to refurbish large parts of the school, providing new facilities for ICT, the Library, Careers, as well as new classrooms to allow subjects to be taught in “suites” of adjacent rooms.
Autumn 2004 saw the opening of a £4.5 million “Arts Building” that houses Music, Drama, and Art along with Textiles, Food Technology, Media and Graphics, all in the most modern, spacious and excellent specialist facilities. This project produced further refurbishment in existing buildings for the sixth form, learning support and other subjects. A high quality sports hall, which includes excellent fitness and dance/aerobics studios opened in September 2006 providing, for the first time, good PE and sports facilities for a school of this size. More than half of the cost of this £1.5M project, and a substantial contribution to the Arts Centre, was raised by parents and friends of the school through the “Building St Bede’s” appeal which raised over £800,000.
“Those committed to the pursuit of learning and teaching can claim Bede as their own. He is not a remote figure from a forgotten past. He embodies important values, points to enduring truths. We are, whether we recognise it or not, the result of the past; we are rooted in the achievements of others, just as our decisions and actions today will help to shape our future tomorrow.” Cardinal Basil Hume January 1990 St Bede was born in 674 AD and spent most of his life at the monastery of St Paul in Jarrow. He is regarded as the father of English learning.
As well as commentaries on the Bible and books on Church History, he wrote about Poetry, Geography & Mathematics and introduced the practice of naming years AD and BC. His great “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” is still an important source of information about the early history of this country. He died on May 25th 735 and is buried in Durham Cathedral. Each year, groups from the school visit Jarrow and other sites associated with Bede and pray for the school while gathered around his tomb.