The Society of Merchant Venturers is the sponsor of the Colston’s Girls’ School Trust. As a sponsor, the Merchants are heavily involved in all aspects of the Trust’s activities, with strong representation on the governing bodies. They also work closely with the Department of Education, Bristol City Council and the local community. Its membership comprises prominent and successful men and women, prepared to give their time and skills to contribute to the prosperity and wellbeing of the greater Bristol area.


The Merchant Venturers have been involved in education in Bristol for at least 400 years — archival records show that they were running a school for the children of mariners as early as 1595. This grew into the Bristol Trade School in the 18th century, which subsequently became the Merchant Venturers’ School and later the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College.

In 1708 Edward Colston founded Colston’s School and endowed it, appointing the Merchant Venturers as managers of the endowment. In 1891 Colston’s Girls’ School was created under the auspices of the same foundation.

More recently the Merchant Venturers’ commitment to see a step change in the quality of secondary education in Bristol is reflected in its provision of skills and resources to the state sector. In 2008 they opened, as sponsor, Merchants’ Academy in Withywood which has subsequently made rapid improvement. In the same year the Merchant Venturers sponsored the conversion of Colston’s Girls’ School into an Academy with entry available for all.

Colston’s Girls’ School continues to top the academic league tables for non selective maintained schools within Bristol for both A Level and GCSE results and remains heavily oversubscribed at entry level. At the last OFSTED inspection it received an outstanding grading.

Link to the Merchant Venturer’s website