Bede’s is an independent, co-educational, day and boarding school in the South East of England, offering education from 3 months through to 18 years old. It has always been renowned locally for its refusal to select pupils based on common entrance exam results, and its belief in the importance of discovering and developing individual talents.
The challenge for the school, at a time when competition for fee-paying pupils was fierce and the importance of academic results hotly debated, was how to raise everyone’s expectations of what pupils could achieve at the school without them being hot-housed, and without selecting only the brightest children.
Newly appointed Head, Dr Maloney, had devised an ambitious change programme that would raise academic standards whilst enhancing the school’s holistic approach to education. We were to create a brand that would support, drive and communicate that change.
Having identified a sustainable positioning we helped Dr Maloney articulate his ambition for the school as ‘Inspiring excellence through curiosity and self-belief’, with the promise that everyone could ‘Expect More’.
We ran workshops with over 200 members of staff and invited them to help us shape and build the new brand together. The workshops generated a myriad of ideas on how to inspire excellence, every day, including teaching techniques, tools to track and measure progress, pupil responsibilities, and sharing best practice. Work groups were then established, each led by a member of the Senior Management Team to further assess, refine and commit to delivering new initiatives.
Whilst the school began its process of transformation we started work on an identity that would both stimulate and signal change.
Working with Hat-Trick Design, we looked to create a distinctive identity that clearly articulated the school’s difference and allowed the constituent parts of the school to express their own individuality.
We shorted the school’s name from St Bede’s to Bede’s. Breaking with school convention no separate symbol was created, instead the name was invested with meaning and personality, building upon the Be in Bede’s. We created a suite of inspirational BE words that are contained within the logotype, including, Be individual, Be influential, Be intrepid, Be audacious.
The pupils became the focus of the visual identity. A very distinctive portrait style of photography was used (taken by Alistair Hood). We identified student heroes and told their stories to inspire others. These empowered pupils are evidence of the success of the school’s philosophy the power of Expect More.
The brand has been brought to life imaginatively everywhere. No opportunity to inspire was missed, from redesigning the boarding house interiors to the livery of the buses.
Academic standards are continuing to rise as proven by Bede’s Number 1 ranking in pupil progress in the South, and not at the expense of the pupil individuality – if anything the pupil’s voice has got louder.
The school’s curriculum is still broad and deep with Btec through to Pre-U on offer, and the co-curriculum programme is even richer, with more imaginative and provocative activities. Innovative partnerships with the likes of Kings College are further evidence of the school’s commitment to Inspiring Excellence through Curiosity and Self-belief.
Pupils are truly empowered to make a real difference – the student council is now genuinely influencing the running of the school, the pupils devised the brief for the redevelopment of the sixth form centre and wrote and art-directed the new sixth form prospectus.
Bede’s Pre-Prep and Nursery is opening a new nursery facility in January 2016 in response to increasing demand.
Bede’s reputation as a school that enables pupils to achieve more, whatever their talents, is growing. In 2013 Bede’s was recognised by a government initiative as a “school in ascendancy”.