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An inspirational Bristol school has been named in the Top 10 shortlists for the World’s Best School Prizes 2024. The five World’s Best School Prizes, founded by T4 Education in collaboration with Accenture, American Express, and the Lemann Foundation, are the world’s most prestigious education prizes and this year’s winners will share a $50,000 prize fund.

Venturers’ Academy in Withywood, a school for children with a primary diagnosis of autism, has been named as one of the Top 10 Schools in the World in the category Overcoming Adversity.

The school community learned the news today in a special assembly with students, staff, parents, carers, governors and special guests. The assembly included a surprise performance of Colours from Clevedon School Dance Team, with their Year 9 students hosting an energetic dance workshop for Venturers’ Academy students following the assembly.

Venturers’ Academy students and staff were absolutely over the moon to hear the incredible news and celebrations continued throughout the day.

Venturers’ Academy, which is part of Venturers’ Trust, is among five UK schools across five categories to be shortlisted for this year’s Prizes – the highest number of any country globally alongside India.

The winners of the five Prizes will be chosen by an expert Judging Academy based on rigorous criteria. In addition, all 50 shortlisted schools across the five Prizes will also take part in a Public Vote, which opened today. The school which receives the most public votes will receive the Community Choice Award and membership to T4 Education’s Best School to Work programme to help them support teacher wellbeing and solve the teacher recruitment and retention crisis. 

Executive Head of Venturers’ Academy, Trystan Williams, said, “Our school community is absolutely brimming with pride and excitement at the incredible achievement of being named one of the world’s top ten schools in the category Overcoming Adversity. This really is a massive achievement for a school in South Bristol that champions children whose unique strengths, talents and abilities might otherwise be overlooked.

“This accolade says so much about our amazing pupils and staff, as well as our wonderfully supportive parents and carers, governors and the wider community who are so supportive of our determination to create life changing opportunities for each and every one of our brilliant students.

“The platform this competition provides is all about impact and scale, and working with like-minded schools from all over the world to share best practice and collaborate together. Already we’ve been taking part in the most inspiring conversations with schools from all over the world, sparking ambitious ideas of how we can transform the lives of even more young people who face adversity in their lives for a variety of different reasons.

“The demand for special school provision significantly outstrips the number of places available, but the international recognition of the work we do at Venturers’ Academy, will help us to deliver bright futures for even more children.”

Vikas Pota, Founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, said, “Unless we solve the urgent challenges global education faces – from learning gaps exacerbated by Covid to chronic underfunding and the growing teacher wellbeing, recruitment and retention crisis – we will have failed the next generation.

“Trailblazing Bristol schools like Venturers’ Academy, which have cultivated a strong culture and aren’t afraid to innovate, show the difference that can be made to so many lives. Schools everywhere can now learn from their solutions, and it’s time governments do so as well.”

Next steps

The Top 3 finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes will be announced in September 2024 followed by the winners in November. The winner of each Prize will be chosen based on rigorous criteria by a Judging Academy comprising distinguished leaders across the globe including academics, educators, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and the private sector.

A prize of US$50,000 will be equally shared among the winners of the five Prizes, with each receiving an award of US$10,000. Meanwhile, the winner of the Community Choice Award, as determined by the Public Vote, will receive membership to Best School to Work – an independent, evidence-based mechanism to certify schools for their culture and working environment.

Membership comes with detailed feedback, actionable insights, and benchmarking data to help schools transform their culture to attract and retain the best teachers.

The five World’s Best School Prizes – for Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity, and Supporting Healthy Lives – were established in the wake of Covid in 2022 to give a platform to schools that are changing lives in their classrooms and far beyond their walls, sharing their best practices to help improve education everywhere.