Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy

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Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy
Established 1986
Type Secondary academy & sixth Form
Religion Roman Catholic
Headteacher Mr Kevin Gritton
Location Duffield Road
DE22 1JD
England Coordinates: 52°56′36″N 1°29′09″W / 52.94328°N 1.48593°W / 52.94328; -1.48593
DfE number 831/4607
DfE URN 138622 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1820
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses John Paul, Bakhita, Romero, McCauley, Teresa, Kolbe
Colours Yellow, Green, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange

Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy is a Catholic secondary school with academy status in the Darley Abbey district of Derby. The school maintains a Catholic ethos, being the only Catholic secondary school in the City of Derby.[citation needed] It educates around 1820 students, with more than 100 teachers, as well as a non-teaching support staff such as LSAs, CPMs and 'one to one' tutors.

School history[edit]

The school was built on its current site in, after the land had been acquired by the Sisters of Mercy, and St. Philomena's High School for Senior Girls moved from Broadway, where it had been located since 1947. In 1971, St. Philomena's merged with the local St. Mary's Secondary School. The two Catholic secondary schools in Derby - Saint Thomas More and Saint Ralph Sherwin - merged in 1986, to make the current site unique as the only place of secondary Catholic education within the city of Derby. The school was named after St. Benedict, and had a logo with a Latin motto, 'Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti' ('the cross of our holy father Benedict'), until the school logo was changed in 2002, to show a more angelic looking version of St. Benedict.

The School Day[edit]

The school day begins at 8.40am. The school timetable on Thursdays differs to that on the other days of the week, to allow an extended Form Time for pupils with their form tutor. Classes end at 3.00pm, after which optional extra curricular activities are laid on.


Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy is a large school, and as such it is segmented in order to manage it more efficiently. In previous years the school was segmented, initially in year group 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 to represent the years, with each year broken down into forms, B, E, N, D, I, C and T. Forms B, E and N were grouped together as were D, I, C and T and lessons were arranged depending on which half of the year you were in - students in B, E, N did not share lessons with students from D, I, C, T until reaching GCSE study. Later these year groups were changed to 7, 8, 9 and so on, for pupils aged 11–12, 12-13 and 13-14 respectively and the letter S was added to the forms. A pupil would have been in the form 7S one year, and then 8S the next. Another may have been in 10T. This system worked well for a number of years. However, in September 2005, a new system was introduced: the house system.

The system is based on the theme of community, to encourage a greater sense of community and responsibility among students.

Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy is a large community which has been broken down into 6 smaller communities called Houses. There are 6 houses which operate like mini schools. Each House has a House Leader, a Deputy House Leader and a team of 10 Personal Tutors. Each tutor group contains approximately four pupils from every year group thus making Personal Tutor Groups smaller than the old system of forms groups based on year groups. Siblings are, where possible, placed in the same House but not the same form. This means that parents/guardians only need to contact one House Leader to discuss any matter relating to their children. Houses are organised in bases; 2 in North Block and 4 in South Block. There is a House Assembly, where all pupils in the same House come together, each week. Year Groups come together as necessary to look at issues such as University Applications, Work Experience and Preparing for Exams.

Current houses[edit]


Main article: Maximilian Kolbe

Kolbe House is named after Maximilian Kolbe. He was the second of three sons born to a poor but pious Catholic family in Soviet-occupied Poland. In 1906 at Pabianice, at the age of 12 and around the time of his first Communion, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary that changed his life. He became a novice in the Conventual Franciscan Order at the age of 16. He took the name Maximilian, made his first vows on 5 September 1911 and his final vows on 1 November 1914. He studied and was ordained in Rome. Maximilian returned to Poland on 29 July 1919 to teach history in the Crakow seminary. He was arrested with several of his brothers on 19 September 1939 following the Nazi invasion of Poland. The brothers housed 3,000 Polish refugees, two thirds of whom were Jewish, and continued their publication work, including materials considered anti Nazi.[citation needed] For this work Kolbe was sen to Pawiak prison, Warsaw on 17 February 1941. On 28 May 1941 he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670. In July 1941 there was an escape from the camp. Camp protocol, designed to make the prisoners guard each other, required that ten men be slaughtered in retribution for each escaped prisoner. Francis Gajowniczek, a married man with young children was chosen to die for the escape. Maximilian Kolbe took his place. He was canonized on 2 October 1982.


Main article: Catherine McAuley

McAuley House is named after Mother Catherine McAuley. Catherine McAuley was an Irish Catholic girl born in 1778 adopted by a wealthy Protestant family.[1] She inherited a great fortune when she was 35. She wanted to do work among the poor. She had already engaged in relief efforts for the needy and by 1824 contemplated plans for a centre for the charitable and a home for working mothers. On 24 September 1827 she opened her House of Mercy. It consisted of a school and a home for working mothers. As the need for jobs was great, she soon tacked on an employment agency and before long an orphanage was formed. Catherine agreed to receive religious instruction and develop her work into a charitable order. On 12 December 1831, she took her own vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Thus came into being the Sisters of Mercy. Even in her lifetime the order grew `and spread. She established a second house in London “to educate poor little girls, to lodge and maintain poor young ladies who are in danger, and to visit the sick and poor”. After she died in November 1841, the Sisters of Mercy grew to be the largest order ever founded in an English speaking country.


Main article: Oscar Romero

House is named after Archbishop Oscar Romero. Oscar Romero was born in Ciudad Barrios, a small town in El Salvador. Ordained a priest in Rome in 1942 he was Bishop of Santiago de Maria.[2] In 1975 the National Guard raided Tres Calles (a village in Romero's diocese.) The early morning attack hacked people apart with machetes as it rampaged from house to house, ostensibly searching for concealed weapons. The event catalysed Romero. At the funeral for the victims, Romero's sermon condemned the violation of human rights. When Romero was promoted as Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital city, the ruling alliance government sent a message to Romero as Rutillo Grande, a Jesuit friend, was gunned down in his jeep, together with an old man and a sixteen-year-old boy. Romero prayed publicly at length beside his friend’s remains, and then buried all three corpses without first seeking government permission – a criminal offence. He excommunicated the murderers. In a dramatic gesture he cancelled all services the following Sunday except for a single mass in front of the cathedral, conducted outdoors before 100,000 people. Romero was shot while conducting the funeral of a friend’s mother in March 1980.[2] His assassin escaped in the hubbub and has never been found. 250,000 thronged the Cathedral Square for his funeral. He has been recommended for canonization for his work for the oppressed.

John Paul[edit]

John Paul House is named after Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II, born as Karol Jozef Wojtyła (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), reigned as pope for almost 27 years, from 16 October 1978 until his death in 2005. On 13 May 2005 Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul II's successor, waived the 5-year waiting period for a cause of beatification to be opened. The official process for beatification began in the Diocese of Rome on 28 June 2005. The first non-Italian to serve in office since the Dutch-German Pope Adrian VI died in 1523. John Paul II's reign was the third longest in the history of the papacy, after those of Saint Peter (about 35 years) and Pope Pius IX (31 years). During his reign, the pope travelled extensively, visiting over 100 countries and every continent except Antarctica. His health deteriorated in the late 1990s, as he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. On 2 April 2005, after he had a tracheostomy, John Paul died aged 84.


Main article: Josephine Bakhita

Bakhita House is named after Josephine Bakhita, who was born to a wealthy Sudanese family, she was kidnapped by slave-traders at the age of 9, and given the name Bakhita by them. Sold and resold in the Markets at El Obeid and Kartoum, finally purchased in 1883 by Callisto Legnani, Italian consul who planned to free her. She accompanied Legnani to Italy in 1885, and worked for the family of Augosto Michieli as a nanny. She was treated well in Italy, and grew to love the country. As an adult convert, joining the church on 9 January 1890, she took the name of Josephine as a symbol of her new life. She entered the Institute of Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice, Italy in 1893, taking her vows on 8 December 1896 in Verona, and serving as a Canossian Sister for the next fifty years. After a biography of her was published in 1930, she became a noted and sought after speaker, raising funds to support missions. She died in 1947 and was canonized on 1 December 1970.


Main article: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu

Teresa House is named after Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, died on 5 September 1997, in her convent in India, aged 87. Born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in Skopje, Yugoslavia, she joined the Sisters of Loreto in 1928. She took the name “Teresa” after St Teresa of Lisieux, patroness of the Missionaries. In 1948 she came across a half-dead woman lying in front of a Calcutta hospital. She stayed with the woman until she died. From that point on, she dedicated the majority of her life to helping the poorest of the poor in India, thus gaining her the name “Saint of the Gutters”. She founded an order of nuns called the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India dedicated to serving the poor. Almost 50 years later, the Missionaries of Charity has grown from 12 sisters in India to over 3,000 in 517 missions throughout 100 countries worldwide. In 1952, she founded the Nirmal Hriday, Home for the dying in a former temple in Calcutta. It was there that they would care for the dying Indians that were found on the streets. Mother would see Jesus in everyone that she met. She wanted them to be able to die in peace and with dignity. For over 50 years she worked selflessly helping the poor. That devotion towards the poor won her respect throughout the world and the Nobel Peace prize in 1979. She was beatified on 19 October 2003.


The school is split into two bases, North Block and South Block, around five minutes' walk apart. The blocks used to be separate schools. Each houses a variety of resources such as the Sports Hall and Theatre. The larger collection of buildings is at 'South Block', where a library, music suite, sports hall, languages centre and design and technology block have been added since the early 1990s.

Enhanced Resource Base (ERB)[edit]

This is a dedicated unit set up for supporting students with a wide range of difficulties such as visual impairment, physical impairment and other learning difficulties. There are adapted computer study/teaching rooms, as well as additional rooms for staff and students to use. The ERB also has input from external specialists in careers and physio advice on a regular basis. The ERB has its own on-site IT Technician to deal with ICT related problems and a Resource Technician to handle enlargements of exam papers and texts. The ERB also has a council made up of representatives from all school years, to deal with issues surrounding the ERB and the school.

North Block[edit]

North Block is home to a variety of subjects like Religious Studies, Food Technology, Science, Hair and Beauty, Sociology and Humanities. It also houses Kolbe and Teresa houses as well as North Block reception which doubles up as the box office for The Robert Ludlam Theatre. The school chapel and the chapel garden may also be found in this building.

Robert Ludlam Theatre[edit]

The Robert Ludlam Theatre is a 270 seat venue with a diverse programme of entertainment including dance, drama, art, music, theatre in the round, comedy, films, family Entertainment, rock and pop events, and workshops. It provides a home for many of Derbyshire’s amateur production groups.[3]

Lafayette Suite[edit]

This multi-functional space is for public speaking, network events and exhibition galleries. In June the range of Art and Textiles GCSE and A level examination work of the school's own pupils filled the gallery. External visitors flocked to the venue to view the presentations. All the exhibitions are open to the public during school days until 4:00 pm, although this is by prior arrangement with the box office.

South Block[edit]

The majority of lessons are taught in the earliest South Block building. It includes a floor dedicated to maths, a floor dedicated to English, and a section dedicated to Art and Design. This building also features a Gym, Dining Room, Cooking Room, Computer Room, Pottery Room and Science Rooms.

A newer building adjacent to south block proper houses the main reception, library, 2 ICT Suites, the IT Technicians' office, Staff Room, Science Room, and Vocational subject rooms used for Lesuire and Tourism studies.

Vocational Centre[edit]

The Vocational Centre is the main room used for teaching business studies. The room is a second home for Business teachers and has the business staff room and McAuley office next door.

The Music Block[edit]

The department continues to provide lessons for drum kit, brass, woodwind, cello, keyboard, violin, classical guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar and voice. Pupils have taken Associated Board Exams, Trinity Exams and Rock School Exams. Based in the Saint Cecilia Music Suite, the studio is used extensively in school and is also available for hire with technician support. The equipment is scheduled to be updated this year and will then be available again for CD recordings by bands, choirs, individuals, or ensembles.

Sports Hall[edit]

Sport is a high priority at Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy with the Physical Education Department being staffed by 6 extremely well qualified teachers. In May 2006 the Department was successful in regaining the Sportsmark Award made by Sport England. This prestigious award which runs for 3 year cycles following the original award made in 1997 and which recognises the excellence of PE and sport in the school. The facilities include a purpose built Sports Hall (with 3 badminton courts, basketball, netball and volleyball court), a multi-gym, gymnasium, hard play area for netball and extensive playing fields with football, rugby and hockey pitches. A 400 metre athletics track is marked out in the summer.

List Of Facilities[edit]

• 2 halls • 1 gymnasium • 1 sports hall • 12 fully equipped science laboratories • 5 information technology rooms • 1 music suite including drum room and recording studios • 2 home technology workshops • 1 Computer Aided Design Room • 1 textiles room • Design and technology workshops • 2 Chill out areas • Art studios • Dance studio • Dance and Music Suite • Drama studio • Theatre • Hair and Beauty Salon • Library and multi-resources/learning centre • Careers resource area • Sixth form accommodation (including student common room) • A full range of other classrooms • Dining room • Specialist Sight Impaired and Physically Impaired facility • Study Support Room • Chapel and Chaplaincy area • Refurbishment of Home Technology • Replacement of Fire Alarm System

School Council[edit]

Saint Benedict has a long tradition of having a pupil voice through its School Council, the school council consists of pupils from all areas of the school and is a fair representation of school. Each house has two house captains and they usually decide that one of those will be part of the school council. The council meet regularly - usually every other Thursday during extended form time. The council is run by the chair and vice chair. The Chair of the Council is decided by a whole school election every pupil is allowed to vote. Any member of the council can stand for the position of Chair but traditional it has been Sixth Formers. The Vice-Chair is normally decided by the council in the first meeting of each year.

Head Boy and Head Girl[edit]

In July 2007, for the first time in the School's history, there was an election for a Head Boy & Girl and a Deputy Head Boy & Girl. Every member of the school community had a vote, pupils and staff alike.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ PD-icon.svg "Sisters of Mercy". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  2. ^ a b "Romero biography" (PDF). Kellogg Institute, Notre Dame University. Retrieved 17 January 2008. 
  3. ^ Robert Ludlam Theatre, accessed September 2009