The Aldridge Foundation was founded by Sir Rod Aldridge in 2006 to create better opportunities and inspiring experiences for young people, enabling their communities to benefit from increased life chances and greater economic growth.
The Foundation is guided by the belief that education has the power to transform underprivileged communities. That by providing an inspiring and enterprising education, which equips students with both qualifications and essential life skills, it can not only help young people to realise their potential but also give hope and aspiration back to communities.
We believe that by developing enterprise skills in young people, they will be more able to achieve academic success and will be better prepared for life beyond school.
At the root of this work is the strong belief in growth through opportunity. This is part of the Aldridge family mission. One which is driven by the desire to help others. Sir Rod Aldridge has long believed that enterprise can be used for social good. On retiring from Capita he set about putting his beliefs into practice.
Making a difference
The Foundation’s work to date has focused on supporting ten schools across areas of Britain that have similar but unique challenges. Many of the schools have been established in communities with levels of high unemployment and income deprivation.
These Aldridge Academies have pioneered the implementation of the Aldridge Attributes, a central platform of the Foundation’s approach. These shape our approach to enterprise education: teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, risk-taking, determination and passion.
One way of embedding the Attributes into the schools’ teaching is the Team Academy approach – another key area of focus for the Foundation. This entrepreneurial education programme was established as a degree course in Finland over 20 years ago, following the collapse of traditional industry. It champions unique ways of learning and has been found to foster well-rounded and resourceful young people. The Aldridge Foundation has evolved Team Academy to benefit students as young as 11 years old.
To further cement these teachings and share the benefits with wider communities, the Foundation established Aldridge Creates – flexible, modern start-up workspaces for young entrepreneurs and members of the community, housed inside schools.
The first Aldridge Creates pilot was established at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, when the academy moved to a new, state-of-the-art building in September 2010. This success in nurturing young businesses has led to the pilot being rolled-out across more of the academies.
The newest addition, Kensington Creates, was established in 2014 and has already supported nearly 50 student and community-run enterprises. Between 2013-2017, there have been 14,720 separate student and community examples of enterprise education. In the academic year 2016/17 alone, there have been 11,000 student and community Team Academy engagements. We want this to increase and develop across all the schools that we work with.
Aldridge Creates plans to provide services and support for young businesses, as well as offering them a physical space to work from. Linking business and education in such proximity has a powerful effect on communities which have been starved of ambition. But no matter how important these centres are to the students and the community – they cannot rely on funding from ever-shrinking school budgets.
The Aldridge Effect
The work of the Foundation not only benefits young people and their communities, but also goes a long way towards solving a common problem faced by employers. Business leaders often complain that basic workplace skills, such as numeracy, communication, time-management, and working effectively in a team, are lacking in those employed straight from school or university.
These enterprise skills are also becoming increasingly important because of the pace of the change in industry. Innovative technologies are creating some roles and rendering others redundant. Flexibility, a willingness to continue learning and lateral thinking are becoming highly-prized characteristics – all products of an enterprising mindset.
These skills will help young people in their first roles but it will also encourage them to keep learning and acquiring further skills as they move throughout their careers, creating a future workforce which is better suited to the evolving needs of employers and society. This is at the core of the Foundation’s work – preparing the young people of today for the challenges of tomorrow.
The Three A’s
To help it deliver on the promise of societal change, the Foundation has developed an ethos based on three key pillars: Achievement, Aspiration and Ambition.
Preparing young people for a successful future by equipping them with the attributes associated with an enterprising mindset
Nurturing emerging entrepreneurs and supporting those who have the passion to set up and run their own social or commercial ventures
Developing entrepreneurial solutions to tackle barriers to social mobility.
It is our objective and expectation that these aims are achieved alongside improving academic outcomes. We believe that young people are best served by developing their enterprise skills in addition to academic success.
These pillars have become the strategic priorities with which the Foundation moves into the future. We have come a long way in ten years, made significant investments into our unique approach and, most importantly, transformed the lives of people in vulnerable communities across the country. But there is still much more to do.