We have a simple but highly ambitious vision to transform the life-chances of students from the richly diverse set of schools that we are privileged to support, during their educational journey and beyond.

A commitment that spans more than four centuries, SMV is more active today in the field of education than it has ever been, overseeing and helping to manage 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 the schools we support.

We do not seek to be the largest grouping of schools in the region, but we aim to have the highest demonstrable impact, with all children from all backgrounds, all succeeding.

Venturers Trust provides strategic, specialist support and resources to eight state-maintained schools, located across the city.

Colston’s School in Stapleton is an 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, Colston’s School has almost 800 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, 3,900 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 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, joined-up approach to supporting students, staff and parents.