School breaking down barriers for its pupils

Date: June 30th 2015

DACA was honoured to be awarded with the title secondary school of the year at the Lancashire Evening Telegraph School awards at Stanley House Hotel.

The awards evening was a culmination of dozens of entries from across Pennine Lancashire and DACA was judged as winner of the Secondary School of the Year because it has not only affected thousands of youngsters, but has also been a catalyst for the transformation of Darwen.

Staff at the school believe that the specialism of entrepreneurship has a positive impact on its students who are learning the characteristics of being entrepreneurial. The judges felt the school had gone even further by driving an economic transformation in the area. During the judging, Mebz Bobat, head of service in education partnership services at Blackburn with Darwen Bourough Council, the main sponsor of the awards, said “They’re breaking down barriers of young people’s expectations. “They expect them to do well, expect them to be the first to go to university in their family. The pupils are fit for purpose for employment.”

In the past two years the students have participated in 14,270 acts of community volunteering; 400 work placements, 35 start-up businesses and there have been record numbers of pupils going on to university. For 70 per cent of their students attending university they are the first in their family to do so.

Michelle Billington Assistant Principal, Entrepreneurship and Community said “we researched the barriers to success that face our communities: lack of self-confidence, lack of people president; parental passivity; perceived geography. Teaching the traits of entrepreneurs enables our students, parents and community to overcome barriers. Our students are socially responsible, demonstrate community pride and are highly employable.”

Judges in the category sponsored by Just Teachers, felt the school had achieved its priorities of improving academic outcomes and changing Darwen’s economy.

Many pupils have started businesses with support from the academy and make use of the facilities available through Darwen Creates, which is based at the academy. All youngsters in the area, regardless of whether they are students, can access the academy’s ‘pods’ which offer office space and business advice.

Students who are part of the academy ‘Young Chamber’ run businesses and fundraise to support other business start-up and support the school’s various projects by holding community cinema nights and running the school shop.

All this and much more – in less than seven years since the school opened its doors to its first intake of pupils.

Principal Brendan Loughran said “We opened in 2008 with just 730 students. This September we will have 1,300 so we are definitely doing something right.”

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