Bishop Bell School

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The Bishop Bell Church of England Mathematics and Computing Specialist School
Bishop Bell School logo.png
Motto Aiming for Excellence, Believing in Partnership, Caring for Quality
Type Voluntary aided school
Religion Church of England
Executive Headteacher Terry Boatwright
Head of School John Ross
Founder Bishop George Bell
Location Priory Road
East Sussex
BN23 7EJ
50°47′56″N 0°19′02″E / 50.79882°N 0.31729°E / 50.79882; 0.31729Coordinates: 50°47′56″N 0°19′02″E / 50.79882°N 0.31729°E / 50.79882; 0.31729
Local authority East Sussex
DfE URN 114613 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1,025
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18

The Bishop Bell School (full title: The Bishop Bell Church of England Mathematics & Computing Specialist School) is a mixed secondary, Church of England 11–16 voluntary aided school situated on the south coast of England in Eastbourne.

The school offers a post-16 (sixth form) college and has an on-site nursery (3–5 years old).


Formerly Bedewell School on Whitley Road, Eastbourne, (the town's Fire Station now stands on the old site) it was reopened in its current location in Priory Road on 25 May 1959 by Princess Margaret. It is named after Bishop George Bell, who ordered its construction and of whom there is a painting in the school.[1] The old site was commemorated with the addition of a Science and Technology building across the road from the main site, which is named Bedewell. The two sites are joined by a skywalk which cost £800,000 in 2004, replacing an outdoor metal bridge which had been deemed impractical.[2]

There have been several ecclesiastical visits from Bishops and members of the Christian faith. The school has had visits from the Quicken Trust, a Christian organisation which works with people in Kabubu, Africa. Bishop Bell has links with Schlenker Secondary school from Freetown, Sierra Leone, within which it helped to implement an IT centre in 2008.[3]

In January 2016 the school announced that it will shortly be renamed. This is due to the Diocese of Rochester paying compensation and apologiing after sex abuse allegations were made against Bishop George Bell in a civil claim. The school is consulting on being renamed either St Edward's College and St Catherine's College.[4]


Following a period of poor performance, the school's educational achievement improved when Terry Boatwright became head teacher in 1995. There was an increase in pupils achieving 5 A*-C grade GCSEs, which rose for eleven consecutive years.[5] By 1999 it was one of the top improving schools in the country;[6] this was attributed to Boatwright by the local MP.[7] By 2006 the school was oversubscribed.[8]


The school educates students from Year 7 through to Year 11, after which they may continue their education within limited post-16 positions in ICT and the school nursery. The school offers pupils a range of voluntary and compulsory GCSE subjects which are taken from Year 9 to Year 11. This is a change from the previous academic year (2007–2008) in which the school started GCSEs at Year 10, with pupils deciding their subject choices the year before.

The school educates all of its pupils in Citizenship and Personal, Social and Health Education. English, Mathematics and Science, the core subjects, are taught to all students throughout the entirety of the pupils' education at the school. The arts and foreign languages are optional as GCSEs in the upper school.

School day[edit]

The day comprises five one-hour periods, with breaks at 11.15 and 1.40. Mondays are shorter than the rest by twenty minutes to allow for pupil mentoring meetings at the end of the day.

Once every term (of which there are six in an academic year) there is an 'Academic Development Day' in which the school is divided up to partake in single subjects for the entire day. This time may be used to plan school trips, or sports days, or to complete coursework in the upper school.

Global Awareness group[edit]

This group has been active in many areas of modern ethical concern, including fairtrade goods and global education, for example the 'Send my friend to school' campaign and the subsequent 'My friend needs a teacher' campaign. The group undertook to make the school a 'fairtrade school' by encouraging fair trade use within the school;[9] in 2009, they succeeded.[10]

Child sexual abuse[edit]

The school has been at the centre of three major child safeguarding problems, including a child sexual abuse scandal:[11]

  • In February 2009, teaching assistant Robert Healy was jailed for seven years after he admitted grooming two girls using the social networking site Bebo, then having sex with them.[12]
  • Canon Gordon Rideout was allowed to remain chair of the school governors for more than a year despite having being suspended by the Church of England following a Criminal Records Bureau check and despite the school being aware.[13] Rideout was jailed for 10 years in May 2013 for abusing 36 vulnerable girls and boys at a now closed Barnardo's home in Crawley, West Sussex, over a four-year period between the 1960s and 1970s.[14]
  • In September 2012, maths teacher Jeremy Forrest was arrested in Bordeaux, and subsequently charged by Sussex Police with the abduction of a 15-year-old female pupil.[15] He was found guilty in June 2013, and after pleading guilty to five further charges of sexual activity with a child, was jailed for 5½ years.[16][17] The judge said that Forrest had been repeatedly warned by colleagues but had lied to them and had been motivated by self-interest.[18] Although a review published in April 2013 did not find evidence of "any significant or systemic failings in safeguarding" following the Forrest verdict,[11] there were calls for headteacher Terry Boatwright to be sacked.[19]


  1. ^ "Prospectus" (PDF). Bishop Bell School. December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Walkway lifted into place". Eastbourne Herald. 25 August 2004. 
  3. ^ "School hits headlines in Africa with IT project". Eastbourne Herald. 27 April 2008. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Schools celebrate GCSE success". Eastbourne Herald. 23 August 2007. 
  6. ^ "Ofsted's top 41 improving secondary schools". Times Educational Supplement. 12 February 1999. 
  7. ^ "School Inspections: Estimates Day, 7:07 pm". TheyWorkForYou. 12 July 1999. 
  8. ^ "Parents wait for school places". Eastbourne Herald. 4 May 2006. 
  9. ^ "All's fair in love — and trade". Eastbourne Herald. 14 February 2008. 
  10. ^ "What does a school do to become a Fairtrade School?". Fairtrade Eastbourne. 
  11. ^ a b "Teacher Jeremy Forrest guilty of schoolgirl abduction". BBC News. 20 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Sussex teacher jailed after having sex with two pupils". The Argus. 30 January 2009. 
  13. ^ "Sussex abuse probe priest remained school governor". BBC News. 15 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "Sex abuse priest Gordon Rideout jailed for 10 years". BBC News. 20 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Jeremy Forrest charged with abduction after extradition from France". The Guardian. 10 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Jonathan Brown (21 June 2013). "Teacher Jeremy Forrest jailed for five and a half years for child abduction and child sex offences after running away to France with pupil". The Independent. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Defendant: Jeremy Ayre Forrest". Lewes Crown Court. 21 June 2013. Case T20120851. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Jeremy Forrest abduction case: Teacher admits sex charges". BBC News. 21 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Jeremy Forrest case: 'Sack pupil abduction' head teacher". BBC News. 20 June 2013.