Caspian is a former Brighton Aldridge Community Academy student

“I’ve been involved in catering since I was eleven years’ old, helping out at the soup kitchen my family used to run. After that there was the juice stand at the Brighton Farmers’ Market – we called ourselves Pulp Friction – then a couple of burger restaurants; I worked my way up to Assistant Manager before I turned sixteen!

Catering’s hard work, but I loved food, was so passionate about it. I knew I wanted to make it my career and for that I needed a qualification, so I called up one of the big further education colleges in Brighton, only they didn’t want to know. My experience counted for nothing; I’d been home-schooled all my life and I guess that was all they could see. They told me there was no space for someone like me there, someone who didn’t have GSCEs.

I was pretty disheartened, but I’ve always believed that if there’s an opportunity for success, you shouldn’t let yourself fail, so I made another call, and it turned out there was somewhere that had a space for me, right here in my home town: Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA). They signed me up to study Catering and Entrepreneurship, and take my maths and English GCSEs. The support the Head Chef and Head of Entrepreneurship gave me over the year was incredible, helping me get to further education after all. I’m now taking my Level Three Diploma in Professional Catering and I’m more determined than ever to make it my career.

The Aldridge Academy wasn’t just a gateway to qualifications though. It was a whole new way of learning. When you’re in the workplace, especially somewhere as tough as the commercial kitchen, there’s no room for failure and not much variety: you’re plating up the same dish fifty times a day!
The Aldridge approach gives you the space to be creative and innovate – you’re even encouraged to take risks, and not be afraid to mess up sometimes. There’s structure too; I used to get frustrated sometimes at the set school hours, but now I’m at college, with all the freedom that brings, I miss it. I’ve learned that you need structure and self-discipline alongside passion.

That’s why I’ve set up my own breakfast bar at the local farmers’ market at weekends. I source all the products from the other stallholders and my customers sit at bar stools, so we can chat while they eat. It’s a great way to be part of my community and that’s what I want my business to be about – community.

Enterprise and social conscience go hand in hand: we should all remember that.”