Samuel Whitbread Academy is an upper school and sixth form with academy status serving the rural communities around the small market town of Shefford in Central Bedfordshire. Its school campus includes a nursery school and facilities for adult education.
Originally designated Shefford & District Upper School, it was as Samuel Whitbread Upper School that it opened on a purpose-built site on 4 September 1973, as part of Bedfordshire County Council's re-organisation into a 3-tier, non-selective school system. Adult education provision was in place from the beginning under Mr Gordon Ainscough, but the name of the institution was not changed to Samuel Whitbread Upper School and Community College until 1975 (when the 'Headmaster' became the 'Head') and it became Samuel Whitbread Community College, (led by a 'Principal') at some point in the late 90s.
The Headmaster, when the school opened, was Mr Kenneth Dodsworth, and the Chairman of Governors was Alderman W. Inskip.
The original intention was for the school to have an eventual roll of 1100, drawn from the existing secondary modern schools Robert Bloomfield and Etonbury, which were to become middle schools, and from 1975, a planned purpose-built Henlow Middle School.
There were 457 pupils when the school was opened: 249 in what was then the '3rd Year' (now known as Year 9) from the Robert Bloomfield and Etonbury Schools; 94 in the '4th Year' (Year 10) and 117 in the 5th Year (Year 11) who were from Robert Bloomfield only. A vestigial 6th Form of 5 former Robert Bloomfield pupils was enrolled, although 6th form courses were not yet in place.
Thirty teachers were employed in September 1973, the last of whom retired in 2007. At that time there were 25 support staff, including 8 cleaners and 9 kitchen assistants.
The site was extensively updated to provide new facilities and space for school departments as part of a Private Finance Initiative with the companies Bilfinger Berger, Galliford Try, Gensler and Helaba. The site is owned by Bilfinger Berger and maintained by Galliford Try Facilities Management. The new buildings were officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 17 November 2006.
On 1 March 2012, the school officially became an academy and was renamed Samuel Whitbread Academy. Previously the school had been a specialist Engineering College.
Samuel Whitbread's current Principal as at September 2016 is Nick Martin.
The catchment area is bounded by the parishes of Arlesey, Stotfold, Stondon, Shillington, Campton, Chicksands, Haynes, Southill Stanford, Broom, Langford and Meppershall.
To help with managing the large number of students, the school employs a House system, whereby students are separated into five "houses" with which they are permanently associated.
The five Houses are:Whittle - Hall colour: Green
Harwood - Hall colour: Purple
Olivier - Hall colour: Turquoise
Whishaw - Hall colour: Red
Pendleton - Hall colour: Blue
They are named after Victoria Pendleton, Ralph Endersby Harwood, Laurence Olivier, Ben Whishaw and Frank Whittle. All of whom have a historical connection to Clifton, Shefford.
These houses are used to simplify lesson planning and other activities within school. Sporting events will often be organised in "houses" culminating in the 'SWA House Olympics' at the end of the year.
Harwood are the current house champions for Academic Year 2014-15.Ben Whishaw, actor, noted for acting the lead role in Tom Tykwer's film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. His best-known role now is the portrayal of Q in Skyfall.
Jack Collison, a footballer during his time at the school, who has gone on to represent Wales' u21s and full national side as well as playing for West Ham United's first XI.