A commitment that spans more than four centuries, the Society is more active today in the field of education than it has ever been, overseeing and managing nine primary and secondary schools across Bristol: one independent and eight state-maintained. Our commitment is practical as well as financial, with many of our Members and Friends taking active roles in the governance of our schools.
We do not seek to be the largest grouping of schools in the region, but we do aim to be the most respected and with the highest demonstrable impact.
Venturers Trust provides strategic, specialist support and resources to our eight state-maintained schools, located across the City of Bristol.
Our independent day school, Colston’s School in Stapleton, was founded in 1710 and has, ever since that time, been supported by the Society of Merchant Venturers. An extremely successful school that offers pupils a broad-based and rich curriculum, Colston’s School has 700 pupils, age 3 to 18 and is managed by an independent board of governors.
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.
SMV is the joint sponsor of Venturers Trust, along with the University of Bristol, responsible for eight state-maintained schools, 3,300 students and 700 members of staff. The profile of each school within the Trust is very different. Venturers Trust includes primary schools, secondary schools, an all-age school and a special school, located across the city of Bristol and representing a diverse set of communities.
The strength of the Trust comes from working together as a wider family of schools – sharing best practice in teaching and learning and applying an informed, joint approach to supporting students, staff and parents.