THE ACADEMY AT A GLANCE
- A member of the Aldridge Education multi-academy trust
- 11 – 18 co-educational school
- 1,600 students including Sixth Form
- Entrepeneurship and sports specialism
- Creates Entrepreneurship Bridge provides facilities & space for student and community enterprises
Darwen Aldridge Community Academy (DACA) opened in the predecessor school buildings in September 2008, moving to its new town centre location in September 2010. The state of the art building features an entrepreneurship bridge, Darwen Creates. The Academy Sixth Form brought a new education offer for post 16 students with the outstanding new facilities at the Academy designed to be accessible to the wider Darwen community.
In 2011, its third year after opening, DACA was a finalist in the Academy of the Year category at the Education Investor Awards. On 11th April 2011 Prince William and Kate Middleton officially opened the Academy buildings in one of the last official engagements they carried out before their wedding later that month. Prince William praised the “wonderful, innovative, ground-breaking” academy and stated “I am convinced the academy will transform the lives of families in Darwen and, through its example, countless others elsewhere.”
In 2013 the Academy saw record A level Results with a pass rate of 100%, and celebrated another first for the Academy when Khushna Sulaman-Butt secured her place at Ruskin College, Oxford to read Fine Art – the first DACA student ever to progress to Oxford University.
2013 also saw DACA achieve a Good rating in all aspects of an OFSTED Inspection.
By 2016 the percentage of students achieving 5 or more GCSE passes at A* to C grade (including maths and English Language or Literature) had risen to 65% while the A Level pass rate and vocational equivalent pass rate at the Academy were both 100%, and at A Level over 45% achieved the highest A*-B grades. A record number of 68 of our students applied for and got their first choice of University.
There is regular emphasis and assessment of the specialisms of entrepreneurship and sport at the Academy. DACA has developed the characteristics of entrepreneurship which are embedded across all aspects of Academy life to raise the potential of students.
DACA has a Cricket Academy, launched in partnership with Lancashire County Cricket Club, a Football Academy (in partnership with Chorley FC) and a range of other boys and girls sports academies. In November 2013 DACA was Highly Commended at the Enterprising Britain Awards and in 2014 won the Independent Academies Association’s Award for Partnerships Through International Educational Outreach, as well as being one of three finalists shortlisted for the IAA Award for Entrepreneurial and Innovative Practice.
In 2015 the local business community recognised the impact of the Academy’s commitment to developing entrepreneurship with the Enterprise in Education Award at the Hive Business Awards 2015. Weeks later the Academy was named Secondary School of the Year by the Lancashire Telegraph and in October the Academy was named one eleven schools from eleven countries across Europe to have won the Entrepreneurial School of the Year Award 2015, a national and European recognition of the best schools championing entrepreneurship education.
In November 2016 the Academy received a British Council International School Award recognising its “outstanding development of the international dimension in the curriculum”. The award recognised Darwen Academy’s long-term commitment to improving education and enhancing understanding of different cultures through its programme of overseas visits and project work in disadvantaged communities.
The Academy’s founding Principal, Brendan Loughran, took up the role of Executive Principal for all Aldridge schools in Darwen from September 2016. Lisa Dolan has been appointed as the Principal from September 2017, with David Cane continuing as Interim Principal until then.