Bishop Vesey's Grammar School
|Motto||Dextra Dei Exaltavit Me|
|Type||Voluntary aided grammar academy|
|Religion||Traditionally CofE, events such as Founder's Day are held at the Holy Trinity Church.|
|Deputy Head||Ruth Hearn|
|Chairman of the Governors||John Craggs|
|Founder||John Vesey, Bishop of Exeter|
|Location||Lichfield Road/ Boswell Road
|DfE URN||137988 Tables|
|Houses||Blue, Gold, Red and White|
Bishop Vesey's Grammar School (BVGS) is a selective state grammar school with academy status in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. Founded in 1527, it is one of the oldest schools in Britain. The school was a day and boarding school until the 1880s, and retained a small number of boarders in the mid-20th century. In 2008, the school and its grounds were used as one of the main sites for the filming of the 2009 film Tormented.
The school was founded in 1527 by the Bishop of Exeter John Vesey (formerly John Harman) who was a friend of Henry VIII and tutor of his elder daughter Queen Mary I and currently has approximately 900 pupils. The current headteacher is Dominic Robson as of September 2012. The school is noted[who?] for having a well-respected school rugby union and hockey teams. In 2004 BVGS became a Language College and, in 2007, the school gained Training School status. Assistant Headteacher Steve Baugh is Head of the Training School and Continuing Professional Development. The school is also a sixth form college. It is situated on the A5127, next to Birmingham Metropolitan College (former Sutton Coldfield College) and the Cross-City Line.
The school's Latin motto, Dextra Dei Exaltavit Me means "The right hand of God hath lifted me up" or alternatively "The right hand of God has guided me". The former school motto was "Dominus Mihi Adjutor" meaning "Lord, give me counsel". Two former pupils (one the son of a headmaster) received Victoria Crosses in the First World War.
The first foundation deed set up by Bishop John Vesey in 1527 provided an endowment from property income of £7 a year and twenty-one people were appointed Trustees to manage the school and pay a fit and proper person to teach Grammar and Rhetoric. There are no images of Bishop Vesey (although a more or less contemporary effigy of him exists on his rather over-restored tomb in the town's parish church of the Holy Trinity) and an image hung in "Big School" assumed to be John Vesey is in fact former mayor of Sutton Coldfield John Wilmot
It was not until 1540, however, that a second deed was set up providing for the endowed properties to be held by the Warden and Society of Sutton Coldfield and layman John Savage was appointed as the first master.
Until 1544, St Mary's Hall was used as a schoolroom and then a school was built close to the church on Blind Lane, behind where the Masonic Buildings (the former Town Hall) are located and on the site of the former Work House, behind the former Almshouses, close to the Sons of Rest building off Mill Street.
Complaints relating to the diligence of the Trustees and the Corporation came before the Chancery Court which ordered in 1636 that control be transferred to a new board of fourteen Trustees.
In 1728, the Corporation provided land for a new school building in the present location, one of the conditions being that the headmaster Paul Lowe should agree to teach English, writing and arithmetic to twelve parish boys. At that time there was no stipulated age of entry to the school. Entry required the ability to read, and usually to pay.
William Webb was appointed headmaster in 1764 and under him a sound basic education was provided and the school prospered. He was headmaster for 53 years until his death in 1817. His successor Charles Barker had an entirely different view of the role of the school. His interest was in the teaching of Classics. He often had only a handful of students and in 1840, only one pupil was enrolled at the school. He was a strong supporter of the proposal for the setting up of National Schools for the provision of general education.
Upon Barker's death in 1842, James Eccleston was appointed headmaster, but was so embroiled in debt that in order to avoid prison he departed in 1849 for Tasmania.
In 1840, the Grammar Schools Act tightened up controls on schools. With better controls, and a return to a basic curriculum, the school again began to prosper. Under Joseph Wright, appointed in 1859, a full general education was offered. The buildings were extended in 1861 and in 1863 there were 26 boys enrolled. This increased to 51 boys in 1866, 69 boys in 1869, and 105 boys in 1875.
The 1881 census shows the headmaster Rev. Albert Smith resident with his family, a second master Major Dunn, six staff including domestic servants and ten boarding boys. At this time there were also about eighty day boys who were expected to pay either 10s a quarter if from the parish or £2.10s a quarter if from elsewhere.
On 29 July 1972, a 32-year-old art teacher, David Stephenson, was arrested by Russian officials for currency violations in Odessa, when a school party was visiting the Black Sea area. He was accused of making a speculative currency transaction with a Polish citizen, under Article 80 of Section 1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code. He was released in late October 1972.
In September 1972, the school admitted no new pupils as its entry age was increased from 11 to 12. However, the entry age reverted to 11 from September 1992, when two year groups (11 and 12 year olds) were admitted to the school, with a reduced intake however of 120 a year rather than 150.
There were plans to turn the whole area comprehensive in the late 1970s, but the Conservatives gained control of Birmingham City Council in 1976, preventing this from happening. That notwithstanding, the girls' grammar school in Sutton did convert to a girls' comprehensive school briefly, though it reverted to being a grammar school following a local referendum in the early 1980s. As an independent foundation Bishop Vesey's managed to escape this period of turbulence.
In November 1981, 13-year-old John Haddon was abducted on his way to school from nearby Sutton Park and subsequently murdered. His body was found near Fenny Drayton. Two males, Paul Corrigan aged 30 and 15-year-old Derek McInnes, were charged with his murder in December 1981.
In the 1990s, the rugby pitch at the Tamworth Road end of the playing fields was sold for residential development, to fund various projects such as the "Randon Design Centre". The Randon Design Centre was constructed in 1990 at a cost of £1.5 million. The block houses the art and design and technology departments and was designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects. The library, which was located on the site of the Randon Design Centre, was moved into an extension constructed on the main school building. Funds from the sale are still available to the school, but the school are not allowed to sell any more of these fields.
The school formally converted to academy status in April 2012, appointing an Executive Head in charge of fundraising and photography, and internally promoting one of the Deputy Heads to the position of Headteacher. As a result of its academy status it is no longer directly under LA control. However it continues to cooperate with Birmingham LA in respects to admissions.
Being a language college, the school teaches a wide variety of languages: comprising French, German, Spanish, Urdu, Italian and Latin (As of September 2011, Latin will no longer be offered as an option to GCSE students or taught to lower school pupils. After July 2012, teaching of Latin will cease). Also present is the encouragement of community languages; with the school advocating their students' advancements in the aforementioned Urdu language in addition to Japanese and Russian. The school currently teaches 10 GCSEs to pupils who are in the years 10 and 11, starting students on several compulsory subjects in year 9. These comprise compulsory English Literature,Language, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics. The students have a choice of which subjects to partake out of the four remaining slots. One must be a modern language: either French, Spanish or German. Of the three remaining choices, the pupil may choose between one of the above languages, History, Geography, Art, Design Technology (of which there are several variants), Physical Education (non-compulsory), Business Studies and Religious Education. Recently Bishop Veseys decided to drop Information Communuication Technology from its curriculum at GCSE and A level. It is no longer featured on their site.
In the 2005/2006 season, the school had one of the best rugby teams in the Birmingham area after defeating all of its local rivals, reaching the fifth round of the National Daily Mail Cup and competing in the 'super 16s' tournament at the University of Warwick amongst the top rugby schools and colleges in the country. In April 2008, Isaac Feau'nati of Bath Rugby and the Samoa national rugby union team announced he was to retire and take up the head of rugby position at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School on 2 June 2008.
The school also focuses upon other sports and has an annual sports day, which comprises mainly track and field events. Netball is available for the girls who join the school in the sixth form.
In 2008, Bishop Vesey's became the youngest tennis team to reach the Glanvill Cup Finals, the highest standard of school tennis in Great Britain. The team consisted of three Year 10 pupils and a Year 9 pupil. The team finished tenth at the finals in Queenswood, London in June.[when?] The team are attempting to qualify for the U15 Nestle School's National Championships. Also in late 2008 the school hockey teams in the under 13 and under 15 hockey teams won the Birmingham finals. The 2008/09 under-16s made it to the final of the county cup and the 2009/10 1st XI won the County Cup Final. BVGS set up a rowing club in 2010 which was founded by Brian Davies, and coached by Ian Bousfield. Ian Bousfield was appointed Head of Rowing in 2012. The school row on Powells Pool in Sutton Park, they are one of 4 state funded grammar schools that offer rowing to their pupils.
The Clive Richards Centre was completed in October 2006 on the site of the former gymnasium and features several specially designed rooms with sound proofing, for music-making.
The North Tower is used as an extension to the sixth form facilities, which include a common room with cafe, an office and a study room.
An all-weather Astroturf hockey and football pitch on the "Middle Field", running adjacent to the Birmingham Cross City railway line, was funded through grants and an 18 month fundraising campaign.
The facilities at BVGS were used in conjunction with the filming of a new venture by Forward Films and Slingshot Studios, Tormented. The film was shot on site at the school from 11 August 2008 onwards and was released on 22 May 2009. Many pupils at the school starred as movie extras for the filming on the school site. It is the first major motion picture to be filmed in the town of Sutton Coldfield. The cast includes Calvin Dean, April Pearson, Alex Pettyfer and Tom Hopper.
Notable former pupils
- Scott Adkins, actor
- Richard Baker, CEO of Alliance Boots from 2004-7
- Prof Maurice Beresford, archaeologist and historian, Professor of Economic History from 1959 to 1985 at the University of Leeds
- Keith Bradley, politician and life peer
- Michael C. Brewer, conductor
- Bill Buckley (radio presenter), and TV presenter
- Robert Burton (scholar), (1577 - 1640) author of The Anatomy of Melancholy (described by Anthony Burgess of Clockwork Orange fame as "one of the great comic works of the world")
- Philip Cox, CEO since 2003 of International Power
- Graham Crabb, musician, Pop Will Eat Itself
- Cat Deeley, model and TV presenter
- John English, theatre director and founder of the Midlands Arts Centre
- Vernon Harrison, President of the Royal Photographic Society 1974-1976, and photography researcher
- Dan Hemingway, Leicester Tigers rugby player.
- Dan Hicks archaeologist and anthropologist
- Alan Hodgetts, radio presenter
- Chris Johnson, rugby player
- Rohit Kachroo, ITV News Correspondent
- Julian King, Ambassador to Ireland since 2009
- Dr Peter Knight CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central England from 1992 to 2006
- John Leese, journalist and former editor of the Evening Standard from 1986-1
- John Mogg, Baron Mogg
- Prof Michael Osbaldeston OBE, Director from 2003 of the Cranfield School of Management
- Prof John Osborne, Professor of Dental Prosthetics from 1948 to 1973 at the University of Birmingham
- Sir Peter Ricketts KCMG, Permanent Under Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2006-
- Peter Robbins, rugby player, Coventry and England 1956-62
- Stephen Roberts, historian
- Alan Scott CVO CBE Governor, Cayman Islands 1987-92
- Sir Bernard Scott CBE, Chairman from 1974 to 1980 of Lucas Industries, and President from 1980-1 of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
- David Snoxell, UK Ambassador to Senegal 1997-2000, and High Commissioner to Mauritius from 2000-4
- Cyril Stanley Smith, metallurgist and historian of science
- Showell Styles, novelist and explorer
- Brian Tanner CBE, Chief Executive from 1990-7 of Somerset County Council
- Roy Titchmarsh AFNI, CEO V.Ships Agency Group
- James Wardell, photojournalist, war photographer and glamour photographer.
- Richard Wilkes 18th-century antiquarian (Staffordshire)
- Francis Willughby, ornithologist and ichthyologist
- John R C Young, sprinter and rugby player, AAA 100 yards champion 1956, Harlequins and England 1958 to 61 and British Lions 1959
- Ollie Hogan, digital artist, Founder of LuckyPDF
The poet R. F. Langley taught English and history of at the school in the 1980s and 1990s.
- "Governors". Bishop Vesey's Grammar School. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Chadwick, Edward. "From the Archives: Paedophile acted out evil fantasy by killing schoolboy". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- "The Randon Design Centre" (PDF). Associated Architects. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- "Feaunati hangs up his boots". Sky Sports. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- "Balshaw extends, Feaunati retires". Planet Rugby. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- "Are You A Teen Horror Star?". BRMB. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
- "Northamptonshire > Local Radio > Weekend Presenter Profiles > Alan Hodgett". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- Young, Graham (26 March 2011). "Former Birmingham student Rohit Kachroo is ITV's new man in Africa - despite having type 1 diabetes". Birmingham Mail.
- Smith, Christopher Upham Murray; Arnott, Robert (2005). The genius of Erasmus Darwin: Science, technology, and culture, 1700-1945. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 42. ISBN 9780754636717.
- The History of Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Kerry Osbourne