Kensington Aldridge Academy welcomed its first students today as the £28 million school opened for the first day of its first term.
The brand new Academy will provide much needed school places for children in the area, as previously more than 50 per cent of students have had to travel outside the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for their secondary education. Today’s intake is in Year 7 only, and the school will grow year on year to offer 900 places for 11-16 year olds and up to 240 places for sixth form students once fully open. First admissions to the sixth form will be in 2016.
The Academy is sponsored by the Aldridge Foundation, the educational charity whose academies combine a strong academic focus with the development of students’ entrepreneurial skills, and provide support and training to help develop business and social enterprises in local communities. Co-sponsor the Royal Borough gifted the site to the Academy and has contributed £10.4m towards the building.
Principal David Benson was appointed a year ahead of opening to work with the sponsors on the development of the Academy, and with local schools and parents as interest in the school grew. The Academy received over 500 applications for 184 places last October.
David Benson said: “It is very exciting to welcome our first students to this wonderful new building today. The past year has been about thorough preparation and planning. We have recruited an excellent team of teachers, many of whom have been with us for the last few terms helping to lead the school set-up. Recently the Department for Education stated we were “one of the best new academies they had ever seen” in terms of our planning and curriculum development. A strong validation and an excellent foundation on which we can now build. ”
“Our Year 6 parents’ information evening in July was a big success, and it was great to see all our parents and students together for the first time. There was an unmistakable buzz of excitement that has been mirrored this morning!”
“Today is all about our students getting to know their teachers, classmates and this superb new campus. They have had a chance to explore our specialist classrooms – including for art, science, DT and music; our three libraries, theatre, sports hall and enclosed rooftop sports pitch. Each day of this first induction week has a different theme, from understanding our school motto ‘Intrepidus’ to exploring each of our core values of Excellence, Citizenship, Creativity and Resilience. It will be a great introduction that helps every student make the move from primary to secondary school, feel at home in their new surroundings and enjoy learning with us.”
New student Kashele Phillips said: “I’m very excited to be joining KAA because I know that I’m lucky to be joining a brand new school. All the teachers are really friendly.”
Honor Wilson-Fletcher, chief executive of the Aldridge Foundation, commented: “We had a rare opportunity to work with the Council to create a new, exceptional institution to join our and the Royal Borough’s respective families of schools. We planned for an academy that would deliver the highest standards of attainment, building on success already achieved in neighbouring primary schools. I am confident that Kensington Aldridge Academy, with David and his team will deliver just that for this community.”
“Ofsted in their pre-opening inspection said that ‘The school has had a fantastic run-up and everything is in place’. You can feel the excitement amongst the students and teachers here today. With these great facilities, and this great start. I am sure the Academy will make a real difference to our students and to the local community it serves.”
Councillor Emma Will, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “To meet the growing demand for secondary school places, during challenging economic times we gifted the Kensington Aldridge Academy the site and contributed £10.4m from our reserves towards the construction costs.”
“The academy is a local school, serving the North Kensington community and out of the academy’s 184 students the furthest distance a child lives is less than a mile away.
“I’m very proud to be here today to see the students looking so fine in their new school uniforms and starting their secondary education in what is undoubtedly a magnificent building.
“This is an exciting new chapter for these students and I look forward to celebrating their future successes.”