Education & Youth

“Every young person should have equal access to opportunities that will help them to fulfil their potential. Alongside an excellent education, new experiences, training in life skills and a bridge to employment are all essential.”

Chris Curling, Chair of SMV Education Committee

As the trustee of Collegiate School in Stapleton, a responsibility SMV has held since 1710, and with a long-held commitment to support the education and growth of young people in the Greater Bristol region, our members share a determination to work collaboratively with others to provide young people with equal access to opportunities that will broaden horizons and lead to brighter futures.

Working collaboratively with organisations already rooted in communities and who understand the real challenges faced, we are determined to help deliver opportunities that all young people can access.

A long-term, effective commitment

A commitment that spans more than four centuries, today SMV remains active in the field of education, helping to oversee Collegiate School in Stapleton, where pupils aged between three and 18 fulfil their potential in all areas – academic, creative, sporting and social. In addition, many of our members volunteer their time as governors for a variety of schools across Bristol, taking on the shared responsibility to improve outcomes for young people during their time at school and beyond.

Until July 2024, SMV was the joint sponsor of Venturers Trust, along with the University of Bristol, responsible for eight state-maintained schools, 3,900 students and 700 members of staff. Venturers Trust comprised of primary schools, secondary schools, an all-age school and a special school, located across Bristol and representing a diverse set of communities.

In 2022, with the support of the Department for Education, Venturers Trust made the decision to merge with a larger multi-academy trust that would bring greater expertise, capacity, resources and funding to each of the schools. In 2023, E-ACT was chosen because of its excellent track record of school improvement and its strong moral purpose of addressing inequality through education. The transfer will be completed in time for the academic year 2023-24.


"Encouragement to aim high and work towards ambitious goals is equally important for primary school age children – with opportunities ready for them to step into as they journey through education and into the workplace.”

Caroline Duckworth, Treasurer SMV

Collegiate School

Collegiate School in Stapleton is a co-educational independent day school that was founded in 1710. Ever since that time it has been supported by SMV. A successful school that offers pupils a broad-based and rich curriculum, Collegiate School has around 800 pupils, age 3 to 18 and is managed by an independent board of governors. In September 2022, the school formally changed its name from Colston’s School to reflect its inclusive and diverse nature.

Historical roots in education

Archival records show that the Society of Merchant Venturers was running a school for the children of mariners as early as 1595. This grew into the Bristol Trade School in the 18th century, which subsequently became the Merchant Venturers’ School and later the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College. When Bristol University was granted its Charter in 1909 the Engineering Department of the Technical College became the University’s Faculty of Engineering. Meanwhile, the Technical College became Bristol Polytechnic, the precursor of the University of the West of England.