LABOUR leader Ed Miliband praised Darwen Academy on a visit to the school on Friday 15th July.
And he said the way it has transformed its area should be copied elsewhere in East Lancashire to help regeneration.
Mr Miliband was given a tour of the new facilities at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy on his second visit to the town in months.
He said that, after a visit to Knott Street community centre in April, he had wanted to return to see the Academy.
As well as a tour, he was also grilled by some 13 to 14-year-olds and met start-up businesses located at the site.
Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph he said: “The school is amazing and it seems like a great place to learn.
“The right surroundings can make a massive impact on your ability to learn.
"And here you can see the impact it has had on the town.
“The students have an enormous pride in their school.
"If there are schools in this area that are failing then an academy can have a huge effect.
“Academies should not just be created at successful schools as a way to gain more independence, they can make a difference in areas where they are really needed.
"Harking back to my childhood, I would have loved to have gone to a school like this.
"I went to a comprehensive school which was a very old building and these kind of buildings and facilities make an enormous difference, and it has fantastic kids at this school who obviously love being here.
"That is not what everyone can say about their type of school.
"It is a huge advantage for the kids here as it helps with their learning.
"It is also a huge advantage for the community because this is a different type of school because in a sense it just does not focus on the kids but it is also open to adults who want to learn in the area and businesses can come in and site themselves here.
"This is genuinely a community facility and I think that is why it is such a successful school."
During the tour Mr Miliband took questions from some on the members of the Academy’s E Unit, where students learn about being entrepreneurs.
Kayleigh Croft, 13, of Darwen, said: “I told him about what it is like being a pupil here and what we learn about business.
“He said his school wasn’t anything like ours.”
When Mr Miliband asked the group what they would do if they could change anything about their school there was a resounding answer of ‘more break time’.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the academy earlier this year on their final engagement before their wedding.
From: This is Lancashire
Posted on Tue, July 19, 2011
by Darwen Academy