Building is to be demolished and then rebuilt

PUPILS at Bedlington's St Benet Biscop Catholic High School who have their sights set on high-flying business careers will have a head start with the opening of a £200,000 Business Learning Centre at the school.

Funded by the Co-operative Group, the school and the Department for Education and Skills, the centre is open to both students and the wider community.

Its facilities include two ICT suites, a conference room, a seminar room, a community ICT facility and office space.

The centre was opened last week with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Bishop Kevin Dunn and guests at the event will include representatives of the business community and the local authority. They toured the new centre as well as viewing an exhibition of student artwork on a Fairtrade theme.

Headteacher Nick Bowen said: “I am delighted that the school has achieved Specialist Business and Enterprise College status and am sure that the Business Learning Centre will be an inspirational resource for both the students and the wider community.

“I am particularly pleased to be linked with the Co-operative Group, whose values closely reflect our own.”

The school became a Specialist Business and Enterprise College in September 2005 with the help of a 41,000 grant from the Co-operative Group.

Business and enterprise schools teach subjects that provide a grounding in business management as well as deliver national curriculum requirements. As a co-operative-sponsored enterprise school – one of only ten in the UK, St Benet Biscop Catholic High formally includes lessons on the co-operative business alternative and the difference offered by the co-operative, mutual and social enterprise sector.

For practical work, the school is developing close links with local co-operative businesses – including food stores and pharmacy, funeral and travel branches – which will not only demonstrate opportunities for business careers but for active citizenship and community involvement.

“Co-operative values of social responsibility and caring for others play a key role in an ethical business environment and this exciting development at St Benet Biscop High School is a fantastic opportunity to build co-operation into the everyday lives of young people, not only benefiting the pupils and the school but also the wider community,” said North Eastern and Cumbrian Co-op senior co-operative affairs officer David Connolly.

St Benet Biscop Catholic High School in Bedlington is the only Catholic High School in Northumberland and although a decision to move to a two tier system has been made, the middle school system is still in operation.

The school is the most northern Catholic high school in the country.

St Benet Biscop High became a Specialist Business and Enterprise College in September 2005. The school decided to go for this specialism because it was felt it would benefit all students, as all students need to develop enterprise skills and will at some time in their lives work in some kind of business.

As the Bedlington area of Northumberland has one of the lowest business start-up rates in the country, the school also felt that the specialism would benefit the local community too.

In order to become a Specialist School, St Benet Biscop High needed to raise the initial sponsorship. The vast majority of this came from the Co-operative Group. The school is delighted with this as it wanted to work with an organisation which has values and principles closely related to its own.

The Co-operative Group sponsors ten Business and Enterprise Colleges across the country and these schools now work closely together as a network of schools on a curriculum project to provide opportunities for students to experience and understand co-operation.

The sponsorship from the Co-operative Group, Specialist Schools money from the DfES and some of the school’s capital money has enabled it to create the new Business Learning Centre.

In addition, the funding has also enabled the school to refurbish and install interactive whiteboards in the specialist subjects of Business, ICT and Maths.

The Business Learning Centre will provide an interface between its students and the business community.

Business and Enterprise Colleges’ business management teaching includes subjects such as entrepreneurship, financial and budget management, the theory and practice of leadership, accountancy, personnel, planning and marketing.

For further information please contact:

Joanna MacKerracher

public relations manager – regions

the Co-operative Group

Tel: 0141-304 5560/07836 510559


Nick Bowen

Head Teacher

St Benet Biscop Catholic High School

Tel: 01670 822 795

22 May 2006


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