On the evening of the 8th November 2016, over 100 friends and supporters of the Foundation joined us at Spencer House, in London, to celebrate our 10th anniversary. The event was marked by a guest speech by Sir David Carter, the National Schools Commissioner.
The evening began with guests joining Sir Rod, Trustees and Chief Executive, Beki Martin, in the House’s magnificent Dining Room, where a presentation of key milestones and pictures of students art work was displayed.
However the focus of the room was the painting by former Darwen Aldridge Community Academy student, Khushna Sulaman-Butt, who was the first Aldridge student to attend Oxford University, where she graduated with a degree in Fine Art this year. Khushna is currently Artist in Residence at Kensington Aldridge Academy, and her art piece ‘Society’ from her Encounters Collection was the centrepiece of the room on the evening.
Beki Martin, CEO of the Foundation, opened the evening by highlighting the success of Aldridge Education schools, their impact on their communities, and the role of the Aldridge Attributes; Passion, Risk Taking, Determination, Team Work, Creativity and Problem Solving in this.
She highlighted that Sir Rod Aldridge felt these attributes were behind his success when starting Capita.
“The Foundation is committed to being part of the solution to the challenge that is facing our communities today. Over the last 10 years we have worked with our schools and students to find creative solutions to the problems that they see for themselves and their communities.” – Beki Martin
Beki reiterated the Foundations’ belief, that if fostered by young people, these attributes would help them thrive and therefore drive regeneration in their communities.
“Going forward, whilst academic standards are essential – we also know that young people need to be properly equipped for the future, a future that for the most part is unknown. They therefore need the skills to succeed, the ability to adapt to the unknown and to have experiences and opportunities that prepare them to make choices for their future that not only serve them but help to regenerate the communities in which they live.” – Beki Martin
Beki introduced Liam Dargan, a former student from Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, who has recently graduated and is a graphic designer with London agency L&Co. She highlighted that the Foundation wants every Aldridge student to have the opportunities and experiences that were available to Liam, and for every one of their communities, from Brighton all the way up to Darwen, to see the very real practical benefits of their entrepreneurial energy.
Liam described the huge transformation that the Aldridge Foundation, and the introduction of the style of entrepreneurial teaching, played in his personal story and the Darwen Community as a whole.
“When I started secondary school in 2006, Darwen Moorland High School was under special measures. The council could have easily decided to just close the school, but instead we discovered that our education was about to be transformed, with the help of the Aldridge Foundation.” – Liam Dargan
He emphasised how DACA instilled confidence in its pupils and made them realise they could achieve whatever it was they wanted to achieve, and that there were opportunities all over the world they could access.
“I think the qualities of entrepreneurship are also foundations to being successful in life and having ambition. Not only did this allow me to make the best graphic design projects I possibly could, but it always pushed me to think about being socially conscious – creating design that would help people. The Academy allowed me to experience first-hand that change can happen in a deprived area.” – Liam Dargan
Liam went on to talk about the project he won a Creative Conscience Award for, a great example of how entrepreneurship can address the challenges many communities face. He described how, upon returning home to Darwen during his final year of university, he visited the local market where he interviewed, photographed and filmed the traders.
He found out they were struggling, there was a lack of footfall and the market didn’t appeal to young people. The local council planned to demolish part of the market, and using his research came up with ideas to present to them.
Liam’s drive was to make sure that whatever replaced this part of the market would be decided and created by the community. He created a website, Heart of Darwen, where people could submit their ideas and hosted workshops with local business people.
Guests made their way up the grand staircase where they were greeted by the Kensington Aldridge Academy choir, singing a medley of songs. Beki introduced Sir David Carter, the National Schools Commissioner, who praised Khushna’s work and the Aldridge students’ artwork on display and stated that he saw “Arts and sports as the pulse of a good school.”
He thanked Sir Rod for his “immense contribution to the academy movement in this country” and, in recognising Rod’s passion for helping the communities that he grew up in and has worked in, said “that’s exactly what we should be doing in the public sector”. He concluded that “Children need a champion to take them places.”
Sir Rod followed Sir David Carters speech by describing the formation of Aldridge Education, the new multi academy trust, and explaining how it will enable the Foundation to focus its efforts on developing new ideas to support the journey of Aldridge Education’s schools and their surrounding communities.
“We set out to prove that it does not matter what your background is or where you live, you are entitled to receive an exciting, engaging and relevant education.” – Sir Rod Aldridge OBE
He told the room how he believed their entrepreneurial approach to learning has had an increasing impact on the effectiveness of learning and the confidence it brings. He went on to explain that it was the development of this aspect that the Foundation will be leading on going forward.
“Our students are developing lively, creative and enquiring minds. They have started a personal journey, challenging their own mind-set, with an appetite for something new and exciting. They will be “life ready”, “work ready’ and most definitely “independent thinkers”. They are also beginning to know what is like to win in life and not to accept always being second best.” – Sir Rod Aldridge OBE
Beki closed the speeches by highlighting the Aldridge family’s commitment to growth; through education and through opportunity.
“The common thing that unites all aspects of Aldridge is growth. The overarching brand has three main strands – growth through wealth – recognising that this wealth must have purpose and add value for others.” – Beki Martin
She set out the Foundation’s new strategy; highlighting our continued commitment to developing entrepreneurial activity, expanding our global social entrepreneurship and education work and building on existing, and developing new, strategic partnerships.
If you would like to view the keynote presentations at the 10th Anniversary event please follow the links below.