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 qualities shape 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 entrepreneurship education programme was established 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.
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 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-keeping and time-management are lacking in those employed straight from school or university.
Entrepreneurial 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 mind set. These skills will help young people in their first roles but it will also encourage them to keep learning, acquiring the 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.
Aldridge schools and students have won numerous awards for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education. Most recently Brighton Aldridge Community Academy’s director of entrepreneurship Claire Webster was recognised with the won the Outstanding Contribution to Education in Sussex Award at the Brighton Youth in Action awards 2015, and Darwen Aldridge Community Academy was named one eleven schools from eleven countries across Europe to have won the Entrepreneurial School of the Year Award 2015, a national and European recognition of the best schools championing entrepreneurship education.