Bede Academy, Blyth

High accountability, high aspirations, high achievement.

Case study by Shayne Elsworth.

Tell us about your school

Bede Academy is an all-through, transformational Academy for 1760 students aged 3 to 18, across six key stages and two sites.  Over seven years, the leadership team has endeavoured to create and develop a culture which consistently focusses on character, thinking from first principles, as well as broadening, deepening and enriching cultural horizons.  The Academy’s unwavering commitment to high standards has established a culture of ‘personal best’, with students excelling in an exceptional and ambitious curriculum provision.

Opened in 2009, the Academy’s journey commenced with the challenges that many other academies faced at that time: poverty of aspiration and lack of appreciation of the opportunities that an excellent positive education could provide to all, regardless of background or ability.  A particular challenge at Bede Academy was to address the impact of the previous education provision, which had not been at the expected standard. The Academy’s approach was, and remains, that regardless of any situation, Bede will address learning gaps, foster a climate of scholarship and deep learning, to provide a robust, deep, engaging and exciting curriculum that in turn accelerates student progress.

In the wider community, the Academy is having a transformational effect on Blyth.  It is perhaps here that we have seen the greatest impact of our focus on ‘Character Counts’. Students are encouraged to ‘do hard things’ to benefit both themselves and to serve the community in which they live.  Parents of students at the Academy have rising aspirations and this leads them to be more involved with their children’s education. We are seeing the impact of the Academy in their homes, streets and places of work.

The Academy priorities for the immediate future include the 3-19 curriculum which will be reviewed and further refined, maximising its all-through nature to provide an increasingly seamless, continuous, rigorous and progressive experience for students.  Assessment procedures will be reviewed, ensuring robust and accurate mechanisms; full use will be made of all relevant prior data, including transition information, to maximise attainment and progress for all groups of students in all phases, with particular attention on the Academy’s unique group of non-Bede South secondary students.  Learning gaps will be identified and enhancement opportunities built in. The gap for pupil premium students will continue to rapidly close and we will underpin academic tracking with a robust system for tracking pastoral intervention and performance amongst all student groups.

What did you do to create such notable success with the pupil premium?

Bede Academy takes a strategic and systematic approach to ensuring maximum impact of the pupil premium.

Identifying the gap

Þ     Detailed analysis of data to investigate individual detail on identified whole school issues.

Þ     Termly analysis of data to identify any trends occurring and share these with staff.

Þ     Raising staff awareness of the issues faced by PP student at Bede.

Þ     Ensure that all staff have the highest expectations particularly for ‘disadvantaged students’.

Þ     Ensure that all staff have a thorough understanding of the issues faced by disadvantaged students and build moral purpose.

Focus on the gap

Þ     Students closely tracked to ensure maximum progress and eradication of obstacles to progress.

Þ     Ensure teachers are planning specific targeted interventions for disadvantaged students, particularly those who are making less than expected progress to close the gap.

Þ     Academic Team – Termly meeting to review PP students individually, evaluate action taken and plan interventions to maximise their progress.

Þ     Academic Team (SMT)

o   Use range of evidence to track and monitor the interventions planned by teachers in subject areas.

o   Develop small group academic and character interventions.

Þ     PP Champions (HODs)

o   Track and monitor the interventions planned by teachers in their identified subject areas, closely monitoring the progress of underachieving students.

Þ     PP Champions (Teachers)

o   Planned individualised interventions, holding disadvantaged students more rigorously to account.

o   Lead small group interventions for identified cohorts of students.


Evaluating the gap

Þ     Regularly track and monitor the impact of identified interventions, including actions identified through Academic Team.

Þ     Regularly review the impact of these strategies through conversations with students and staff as well as through data analysis to ensure that the gap does not widen.

Þ     Research the destinations and inherent social mobility of disadvantaged cohort to proactively eradicate barriers to learning and raise aspirations.

Þ     Review the impact of departmental strategies already in place and use findings to support planning for further intervention.

Þ     Identify specific strategies in specific classes which will support and enable disadvantaged students to progress.


Bede Academy is one of the most improved schools in the country in terms of attainment and progress of disadvantaged students since 2012.

In 2016 Bede Academy was the top performing school in Northumberland for disadvantaged students both in terms of Progress8 and Attainment 8. The Academy ranked 2nd in terms of the proportion of students successfully achieving the EBacc.  Nationally this places Bede Academy in the top 14% of all schools for disadvantaged Progress8 and in the top 17% for disadvantaged Attainment8.

Destinations for disadvantaged students continue to demonstrate the impact of high quality CEIAG and aspirations. In 2017, 88% of disadvantaged students in Key Stage 5 progressed to University, and in Key Stage 4 92% of disadvantaged students went on to further study.  There were no students leaving the Academy NEET at any Key Stage.

What next for your pupil premium strategy?

In order to continue to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged students, a comprehensive action plan has been developed around the following priorities:

1.          Refine the strategic approach to overcoming barriers of disadvantage linked to students’ academic, pastoral and character development.

2.          Establish strong parental engagement in this area, monitoring engagement with the Academy and intervening when appropriate.

3.          Ensure provision of effective, prudent set of academic interventions that demonstrate measurable impact on student progress.

4.          Monitor the effectiveness of LSAs and ensure that SEN interventions demonstrate measurable impact on student progress.

5.          Develop and grow work with different external agencies to support students’ academic, pastoral and character development.

6.          Encourage the sharing of in-house expertise in relation to effectively closing the gap and engaging disadvantaged students.

Sharing good practice

Winning the Pupil Premium Award has created opportunities to discuss our work with representatives from the Social Mobility Commission and to explore opportunities for external evaluation of interventions to maximise their impact.  The Academy will be making a bid to the Education Endowment Fund to support this work. 


Discussing the impact of the Academy within the context of social mobility has enabled us to recognise the importance of the wider academy culture on the achievement of disadvantaged students.  A strategic and progressive approach to careers guidance from an early stage in the 3-18 curriculum, opportunities throughout the curriculum to broaden experience and bespoke, personalised 1-2-1 careers interviews all contribute towards the outstanding destination outcomes.

A professional review into the socio-economic impact of the academy has been carried out and identifies areas of strength and opportunity within the local community.

Get in touch

Further discussion about Bede Academy’s Pupil Premium Strategy is welcomed and can be arranged by contacting