Innovative Academy of the Year 2012

“DACA won the 2012 National Independent Academies Association Best Practice Award for Innovative Academy of the Year in London last night. This is a great achievement and a credit to staff and students”

Darwen Aldridge Community Academy (DACA) is celebrating winning the Independent Academies Association (IAA)sponsored Innovative Academy of the Year Award. The award, sponsored by KPMG, recognises "trulysuccessfulinnovation" across all areas of an academy's work.

The award was presented as part of the IAA's National Best Practice Awards at a ceremony in London. DACA was also nominated for the Financial Best Practice in the Transition to an Academy award whilst Brighton Aldridge Community Academy was nominated for the IAA Honorary President's Award for Academy Transformation.

The award to DACAcentred aroundfour strands of its innovative model of provision, all underpinned by entrepreneurship:

Transforming Education Outcomes
The Academy entrepreneurial curriculum has secured dramatic improvements in outcomes for students in every measure. The curriculum is based on attributes of successful entrepreneurs covering Passion; Determination; Risk Taking; Teamwork; Problem Solving and Creativity. The Academy underpins all learning and activity with a business ethos, students wear business-like uniform, business-related qualifications are prominent in the curriculum.

Economic Regeneration
The Academy houses a business incubation centre 'The Bridge' and a business development company called Darwen Creates based in the unique front entrance atrium. Start-up businesses operate from the secure self-contained business centre. It is devoted to 16-25 year olds wishing to set up a business. It is not uncommon for students to combine 'A' level study with the running of their businesses. The vision is that entrepreneurship is taught in classrooms, tested out in the Darwen Creates centre and then run from the incubation centre as a real business. The intention is that the successful businesses will progress into the high street, industrial estates or retail parks contributing to economic growth and regeneration.

Innovative Community Engagement

The Academy has secured funding to lead the national pilot programmes of Inspiring Communities and Neighbourhood Challenge. It has used community engagement to involve parents and families in the work of the Academy and support the drive to improve outcomes for children.

The Academy recognised the need to stop the conveyor belt of children excluded from school, progressing into the criminal justice system and the massive cost this is to the public purse. The Academy has put in place many supportive measures to work towards zero exclusion. It has been successful in this - no child has ever been excluded from the Academy either permanently or on a fixed term basis. It operates a personalized learning centre with a focus on support for students at risk of exclusion including 1:1 tuition ensuring progress in the core and the development of a varied and engaging curriculum.

A delighted DACA Principal Brendan Loughran said: "This is a great achievement and a credit to staff and students"