The awards celebrate the work of organisations that support and encourage entrepreneurship. The award recognises the enterprise and entrepreneurship approach at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy (DACA), one which is being embedded across all the Aldridge family of schools.

The Awards’ organisers stated: “The judges were impressed with the Academy’s highly innovative approach that puts the development of entrepreneurial skills at the heart of the school’s delivery of learning. The academy promotes the development of enterprise skills, allowing students to develop their skills with the support of academy staff and the local business community. DACA students can run a company or social enterprise in response to genuine customer needs, providing real services and products.”

Academy Principal Lisa Dolan said: “We are extremely pleased to win this award that recognises the success of our approach to creating opportunities for students to build their enterprise skills.  As a result of this focus both in and outside of curriculum time, our students have developed resilience, confidence, can-do attitudes and are able to learn more independently. This not only leads to better progress at school but also to DACA students succeeding in their university studies and careers.”

Sir Rod Aldridge said: “We need a learning revolution. One that equips young people properly for the future – not only ensuring good qualifications but the ability to adapt and flourish in an ever-changing society. They need the skills to succeed, the ability to adapt to changing technology we can’t yet foresee, and to have experiences that prepare them to make choices for their future. Choices that not only serve them but help to regenerate the communities in which they live. I am proud that the work we are doing to develop more entrepreneurial education has received this recognition.”

The Academy is part of the Aldridge Education multi-academy trust and, like all Aldridge schools, has a special focus on developing students’ enterprising skills and entrepreneurial abilities alongside their academic qualifications. These skills not only help Aldridge students achieve at school and at university, but also in their careers and adult life. At DACA, Aldridge Education has been piloting the Team Academy programme that particularly impressed the award’s judges.

Team Academy has been developed with universities and educational experts and involves working closely with local businesses and community projects. The programme uses a “learning by doing” approach to help students build the transferable skills that, alongside knowledge based learning, help them to succeed in their continued education and ensure they are best equipped to enter employment or start their own commercial or social enterprises. Team Academy is now offered or being introduced in a number of UK universities following successes abroad and Aldridge Education is an early adopter of Team Academy in secondary education.

DACA is also one of the Aldridge schools that have unique flexible, modern start-up workspaces for young entrepreneurs from the local community housed inside the school at its Bridge Business Centre. As well as supporting young businesses this initiative, called Aldridge Creates, gives students first-hand experience of the challenges enterprises face and the skills they need to succeed. Students have the opportunity to get involved in real-life projects set by the entrepreneurs, which builds students’ confidence and experience.

Local businessman Jacob Knowles, Commercial Director of the Empine Group, who started their business at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, said: “It is great to hear that DACA has won this award. Over the years the academy has given us a strong foundation for our business growth as part of Aldridge Creates. After two years we are now moving to premises nine times the size of our current unit; we are working with clients across the UK; and have delivered print to clients in a number of countries. From an inside perspective we see the positive impact that the focus on entrepreneurship at DACA has on students and we have been lucky enough to be able to get involved with the school to show and give students opportunities in enterprise.”

The Enterprising Britain Awards will be presented to the winners in a special event at the House of Commons on October 30th.