Bede Academy in Blyth has become one of the first schools in the country to be recognised for its work to develop good character in young people.

The academy has been awarded the national ‘School of Character Kitemark’ and described as “a terrific example” of best practice in encouraging and supporting positive qualities in its students.

The award, which considers the culture, ethos and practical examples of character development     across the academy, has been developed in response to growing recognition of the role of character education in successful schools.

Andrew Thelwell, Principal of Bede Academy, said:

“Bede Academy, as part of the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, aims to be a ‘Character First’ Academy. We are delighted to have been recognised as a place of learning that places primary importance on the development of our character, for both students and staff, as much as on academic excellence. This kitemark rightly recognises the commitment of all members of Bede Academy to ensuring the continued development of our core values of Honourable Purpose, Humility, Compassion, Integrity, Accountability, Courage and Determination.”

Gary Lewis, founding member and chair of the Association of Character Education, thanked academy staff for their commitment.

“The Schools of Character Kitemark is awarded to schools that can demonstrate that they take an explicit, planned and reflective approach to the cultivation of positive character qualities in their pupils in the interests of human flourishing. Bede Academy is a terrific example and it is with great pleasure that we welcome the academy with a proven strength at developing the character of their young people,” he said.


Association panel members made an evaluation visit to the academy last year, including interviewing a cross section of staff and students, and agreed that key features of high-quality character education provisions was clearly demonstrated at Bede.

Key traits identified include kindness, empathy, positive and caring relationships, the calm and purposeful environment and the ability of students to make reasoned and right choices.

One of the assessors, Geoff Smith, added:

“The leadership and commitment provided by the heads of both the senior and primary years at Bede Academy, coupled with strong and committed support from other senior leaders, have ensured a community where values and a focus on equality are placed at the core of all activities and provision, both in the curriculum and the co-curriculum.

“The Academy has a clearly understood Christian ethos that permeates the life of the school in a most obvious way. Pupils and staff alike were comfortable and articulate when describing how the values promoted by the school impact on their daily lives and were able to provide many examples, without prompting, of how these values impacted on both achievement and behaviours.”