At Bede Academy we provide an education of character which naturally flows from our Christian ethos. As part of the ‘character-first’ Emmanuel Schools Foundation, we strive to cultivate good character as an end in itself; this raises expectations and supports high levels of performance where students can achieve their personal best. The Bede Academy vision is the outworking of our core beliefs.  We believe every person is morally responsible and so we strive for excellence in character.  We believe every person is gifted for a purpose and so we strive for excellence in our curriculum.  We believe that every person is infinitely precious and so we strive for excellence in community. The academy has clearly defined core virtues: ‘Love, wisdom, fairness, courage, self-control, humility and integrity’ which underpin character development.  Every student and member of staff is encouraged to demonstrate these core virtues, within and beyond the academy, and we take every opportunity to celebrate character growth. This video shows why character matters to us as a group of schools in the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

There are many opportunities throughout the curriculum to enable students to develop their character beyond the classroom.  This includes an extensive co-curricular programme including a wide range of academic enrichment, sporting and musical endeavours. Students are also given opportunities for volunteering and service, with growing numbers of students taking part in accredited opportunities such as the National Citizenship Service and Duke of Edinburgh Award. Opportunities throughout the curriculum are planned to broaden student’s horizons and grow character. This includes link with universities to widen participation, personalised support to raise aspirations and growing links with local industry. Collectively, we refer to these different opportunities as our “Foundations Curriculum” given that this provides an underpinning for the formal curriculum, and a foundation upon which we can help students to build their character.


In recognition of our work in this area, we are delighted to have been granted “Kitemark Plus” status by the Association of Character Education. This award places us as a Regional Hub for the North East, along with Morpeth First School. You can read a summary of our all-through Character Curriculum  here.


At Bede, our ambition is to ensure that every one of our students deserves to be valued, challenged and inspired.  All three of these aspects are at the heart of their Personal Development learning as we seek to help students see themselves as created by God in His image.  In this way, we wish them to recognise their infinite potential and therefore value what they are, what they have the gifts to become, and to support others in their own personal development.  To embody this, our PD course is formed of ‘Ethos Strands’ that explore, protect and enrich such precious worth and potential:

This strand offers time to think about pursuits beyond the classroom that are also important in the development of character and to finding enjoyment and fulfilment.

We believe that we have more to protect and nurture than our bodies and minds: our soul is where we are truly whole and our character is an out-working of our core virtues and beliefs. In light of this, PD sessions with tutors begin with an Ethos moment – as in assemblies and tutor reflections – which will help students connect real-world situations to the values they reflect, and consider their own choices in light of theirs.

This strand focuses on understanding rights, responsibilities, and our role as citizens in a democratic society. As such it explores British Values and Protected Characteristics in depth.  Fundamentally, it links to all the other strands because when students value themselves properly, they will respect and support others too.

This strand provides time and teaching on study skills and reflection on the behaviour for learning that help students achieve their personal best across all subjects in class, revision and exams.

This strand provides guidance and support from experts to promote physical and mental health and includes topics ranging from respect in all relationships, to e-safety, financial-planning, dealing with stress and managing risk.

This strand provides guidance and time to consider what steps to choose post-16, with input on qualifications and career choices – finding which route is right for each individual student.

The key concepts of our personal development curriculum are: spirituality, each other, well-being, work future and passions.  These are further exemplified by the following sub-concepts which include (but are not limited to) statutory SMSC, PSHE, RSE and careers requirements.




Physical Health

Mental Health & Wellbeing



Citizenship & British Values



Core Virtues in Your Work

REV 123


Co-Curricular Opportunities

Service Opportunities


GCSE Pathways

Post-16 Pathways

Careers inc. Gatsby Standards

Following the Head, Heart, Hands methodology, each personal development session is shaped around three learning objectives:

  • Head: gaining new knowledge from which to broaden perspectives and have information to make wise decisions
  • Heart: increasing understanding of causes, consequences and the experiences of others in order to deepen empathy and promote positive action
  • Hands: opportunities to consider the actions they take and would take in real-life scenarios. An underlying focus on oracy – developing the skills to communicate to inform
  • and seek consensus as active citizens.

At Key Stage 3, students build on the knowledge and understanding, skills and core virtues they have acquired and developed during the primary phase.  Our Personal Development Friday focus acknowledges and addresses the changes that young people experience, beginning with transition to secondary school, the challenges of adolescence and their increasing independence.  It teaches the knowledge and skills which will equip them for the opportunities and challenges of 21st century life at their age, whilst acknowledging that they progress through these at individual stages. Students are helped to manage diverse relationships, their online lives, and the increasing influence of peers and the media. Throughout the course, time is given to addressing contextual safeguarding needs, as identified through close work with the Pastoral team and local agencies including the emergency services.

At Key Stage 4, students deepen their knowledge and understanding, extend and rehearse their skills, and further explore attitudes, values and virtues acquired during previous Key Stages. Personal Development education reflects the fact that students are both managing short-term priorities such as revision for GCSEs, and moving towards an independent role in adult life, taking on greater responsibility for themselves and others, including considering and moving into more intimate relationships.  The information they are given seeks to support the step between adolescence and adulthood and discussion directly addresses many of the cultural influences that make this more difficult.  Nonetheless, the emphasis remains on equipping students for positive outcomes and strengthening their belief that through discernment, work with trusted individuals, mutual respect and a focus on character, they can shape a life lived in all its fullness.

At Key Stage 5, the balanced focus continues: helping students to manage their current needs, from study to relationships, as well as laying the foundations for managing future experiences. Students therefore continue to have time on study skills, further study/the world of work, and guidance on relevant risks such as to mental and physical health.  At the same time they learn about adult responsibilities from political participation to family finances. The learning opportunities at Key Stage 5 assume that students have already covered topics in Key Stages 3 & 4. However, students joining Bede in VI Form may bring a range of experience and understanding, so crucial elements such as respectful relationships, especially consent, and British Values/Protected Characteristics receive renewed coverage. This key stage represents the last opportunity to ensure that students have the knowledge and understanding, skills, strategies and virtues they need for independent living, the next stage in their education or career and to contribute as informed, responsible citizens.  Preparedness is therefore tested through an emphasis on applying knowledge and judgment to real-life scenarios.

Personal Development Week also provides opportunities for students to put their increasing knowledge and understanding to active use in further training and service.  For example, students receive hands-on First Aid training, develop new skills such as orienteering, student journalism or cookery, and carry out community service such as litter-picking and gardening.  Visits to local community churches, a synagogue and mosque also widen students’ awareness of diversity and promote understanding and inclusion.  A day’s visit to Holy Island also deepens their understanding of their Christian and community heritage.

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