We encourage every student to reach their full potential whatever their strengths and thanks to a team of dedicated teaching staff, our academic achievements are outstanding.
However it is the co-curricular activities and learning outside the classroom which adds so much to the lives of our students and as a result they leave us well prepared for the next stage of their lives. Read about some of our inspirational alumni below.
Vaughan Southgate, FRBS, PPLS, FZS, FRSM, DL
1954 – 1962
I thoroughly enjoyed my schooldays. Bedford Modern School gave me a love of choral music and sport, opportunities of leadership, many lifelong friendships, and a passion for the natural sciences, which shaped my career.
Vaughan Southgate attended Bedford Modern School from 1954-62. This was a happy time, during which he enjoyed and participated in various sports and made many great friends and with whom he is still in regular contact.
On leaving school Vaughan read Zoology at the University of Wales Aberystwyth, followed by a PhD at Christ’s College, Cambridge in Parasitology. He then joined The Natural History Museum, London as a Junior Research Fellow to study the parasitic disease bilharzia (schistosomiasis) which affects about 200 million people in the tropics and sub-tropics of the world. Vaughan remained at the Museum as a researcher, becoming a Senior Principal Scientific Officer (Special Merit), head of the Biomedical Parasitology Division and Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre, and member of the World Health Organisation’s Expert Panel on parasitic diseases (schistosomiasis). He carried out extensive field studies in many countries of the tropics and sub-tropics, especially in sub-saharan Africa, the Middle East and India.
He has written about 200 scientific papers, and has lectured throughout much of Europe, North and South America, Australia, Thailand and Mauritius, and has broadcast on Radio 4 and the World Service. He has been an examiner of higher degrees in universities in the UK and Europe. His contribution was recognised by the British Society of Parasitology by the award of the C A Wright Memorial Medal in 1990. He was Editor of the Journal of Natural History from 1972-83, and has served on the Editorial Boards of numerous scientific journals. He has also held assorted positions in a number of scientific societies including the British Society of Parasitology, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Zoological Society of London, and the Linnean Society of London of which he was President (2009-2012). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Medicine.
Vaughan was appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire (2007-2008) and a Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire (2009- ). He has been President of the Bedford Millennium Probus Club, Bedford Camera Club, Old Bedford Modernian Club, the London Society of Old Aberystwythians, Chairman of the Friends of Cople Church, a Patron of the Higgins, and a founder member, now an Honorary member, of the Biggleswade Ivel Rotary Club. Currently he is a Trustee of the Bedford Hospital Charity and the John Spedan Lewis Foundation.
1999 – 2006
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Mathematical Epidemiology
I really enjoyed maths lessons at BMS and the teaching was great which definitely played a big part in my decision to study maths at the University of Oxford.
By the time I reached my fourth year at university and had specialised in applied courses in fluid mechanics and mathematical biology, I applied to do a PhD within an interdisciplinary doctoral training programme in life sciences at Oxford.
After four years of my PhD, I felt that I hadn’t succeeded in doing something directly useful in the world of health and wasn’t sure if I wanted to carry on in academic research. However, I had completed a short internship with an organisation called Giving What We Can which researches and promotes cost-effective charities working on alleviating poverty in developing countries and had developed an interest in neglected tropical diseases, which a number of the charities recommended by Giving What We Can fight against.
Neglected tropical diseases disproportionately affect poor people living in developing countries, and cause a massive amount of suffering. At around the same time I learned of an international consortium of research groups modelling neglected tropical diseases with the aim of helping eliminate 10 neglected tropical diseases by 2020. Postdoctoral research positions for four of the diseases were advertised by the University of Warwick and after applying I was lucky to be offered the position to model visceral leishmaniasis, the world’s second most deadly parasitic disease after malaria. I started the job in May 2015 straight after finishing my PhD and have since travelled to India, where 80% of the world’s cases of the disease are. I’m really enjoying it, and I’m very glad and grateful to have been inspired to study maths by BMS.
2012 – 2014
Model and Neuroscientist
Alice van der Schoot, 21, now working under the pseudonym Alice Buckingham, who left BMS in 2014 to study Neuroscience at the University of Leeds is currently balancing her studies with a successful modelling career after being signed to global modelling agency Viva Model Management last summer.
I studied Neuroscience at the University of Leeds where I achieved a first class degree. I developed a particular interest in Neurogenesis – the brain’s ability to make new neurones in a few limited areas of the brain. My dissertation focused on how the antidepressant fluoxetine increases neurogenesis in part of the brainstem involved in the control of appetite – a discovery that I made!
I was given a huge amount of support throughout my A Levels and encouraged to apply to study Neuroscience at university. I felt able to be myself, which has been very important to me working in the modelling world.
My modelling career has seen me feature in major magazines such as Russian Vogue and feature in shows for prominent designers including Mulberry and Erdem. When I finish my final year at university I intend to pursue modelling full time for a few years as I want to make the most of travelling while I can. I have a visa in New York and am hoping to travel quite a bit with my agency, Heroes, as well as my agency in London, The Squad.
2003 – 2008
The ethos of the English Faculty is not just centered upon passing an exam, although the academic results that it achieves are exceptional; it is taught to prepare you for the real world.
My studies within this inspiring environment prepared me with the creative confidence that meant, aged 18, I was able to leave school and immediately be offered and accept graduate level job opportunities.
Within five years of leaving Bedford Modern School I had filmed in more than 40 countries and worked for every one of the major broadcasters. I feel incredibly fortunate that I had the opportunities and guidance that were offered to me in the Sixth Form, as without them, I would not have achieved anywhere near the amount I have been able to since leaving BMS.
2005 – 2007
After leaving Bedford Modern School, I spent a few years applying for drama schools with the ongoing support of the drama department. I even spent a year working as Nick Parker’s Technical assistant at BMS helping with productions.
I started at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) in September 2009 and graduated in 2012. I also joined Mischief Theatre in January 2009 and we developed our improvised comedy show – Lights! Camera! Improvise!
I continued to work with the company throughout my training at LAMDA and after graduating, The Play That Goes Wrong was developed and performed at a London Fringe venue in December 2012. I took part in that show from the beginning, through to a UK Tour and West End transfer, and then the Royal Variety Performance 2015 which was broadcast on ITV1. I am an original cast member of that play, as well as Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery in the West End and filmed Peter Pan Goes Wrong for BBC1 which aired on New Year’s Eve 2016.
I am currently making my Broadway debut in The Play That Goes Wrong at the Lyceum Theatre. Other work includes Doctors, And Then There Were None(both BBC1) #FindTheGirl (BBC 3 online) and Taste – A Twist of Dahl (BBC Radio 4).
I joined BMS Sixth Form in 2005 and had the most amazing time. I received support and encouragement from my teachers about my prospective career and was frequently challenged in order to make success more likely. I honestly feel that I wouldn’t have had the confidence, nor the experience to go forward and be a professional actor had it not been for my time at BMS. The school productions were such a highlight, I went from principle roles to ensemble and was taught the importance of both responsibilities – I had the most fun!
I also made best friends for life in many of my fellow students – students on these pages! I often find, too, with OBMs from my time, that it doesn’t matter how long it’s been, the connection that was made by sharing our time at that school remains unbroken. I may not have seen someone for years, but we can chat and laugh as if no time has passed at all.
My time at BMS helped to shape me and my memories always make me smile.
2003 – 2009
I left BMS in 2009 to go to Durham University to undertake a degree in Natural Sciences, focusing on biology, business, and geography.
I graduated in 2012 as Chair of my College and entered the Government Fast Stream where I served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Business Department before moving on to the Trade Department as Deputy Head for Entrepreneurship. Highlights during this time included supporting the restructure of the Student Loan Company, selling part of the loan book for £160 million and launching a six-country tech road show.
I then took a huge gamble in my career and accepted an appointment to become CEO of a national enterprise educational charity. At 23, I was one of the youngest executives in a million pound turnover non-profit and raised several rounds of funding with government and venture capital firms to keep it going. It was really hard, but I am proud that 5,000 people attended our events. We also built 260 student enterprise groups across England and briefed No10 directly on education policy.
Alongside this, I grew more interested in politics and was part of the campaign team in the 2015 General Election and the London Mayoral 2016 election, where I wrote speeches for political candidates and participated in media rounds on a range of subjects, including on UK-China diplomacy. I am still a blogger for the Huffington Post.
In August 2016, in the wake of Brexit, I re-joined the UK government as Head of Policy and Projects where I am leading on digital skills and inclusion, ensuring we take everyone in the country through the fourth industrial and technological revolution.
While still early in my career, I would not be where I am today without BMS. I learned as much in the classroom as out and I was taught the notion of hard work, dedication and the will to win.
BMS gave me my first job as a Holiday Course worker when I was 16. My leadership developed further as part of the BMS rowing team, where I took up my first ever management position as Captain of Boats. That changed my life in more ways than you can imagine, spurring a journey that culminated in winning the National Schools Gold Medal in 2009. Having a BMS boat named after me, as a result, remains a huge honour to my life.
I made lifelong friends that I still hang with today and that rich network across the world has supported my life practically and spiritually. I am really pleased to be part of the OBM Advisory Panel and continue to take a deep interest in my old school.