The academy opened in September 2008 and moved into a new building on a new site close to
the town centre in September 2010. A Personalised Learning Centre, housed in a building
adjacent to the school, was opened in January 2011.
The academy's sponsor is the Aldridge Foundation, founded by Sir Rod Aldridge, OBE. The
academy is part of the Darwen Academy Trust which works in partnership with the Aldridge
Foundation to support the academy. The academy is part of the Aldridge Family of Academies which comprises a number of academies in different parts of the country.
The academy specialises in providing for entrepreneurship and sport. A number of sporting academies is established in the sixth form. These provide talented
students with opportunities for specialist coaching in specific sports alongside academic study.
Sporting academies include those for football and cricket. Plans are advanced for academies for
table tennis, netball and golf.
The academy is average in size compared with other secondary schools/academies. The proportion of students eligible for pupil premium funding is above average. (Pupil premium
is additional funding provided by the government to support students known to be eligible for
free school meals, those in local authority care and the children of service families.)
The proportion of disabled students and those with special educational needs supported through
school action is above average. The proportion supported by school action plus or with a
statement of special educational needs is average.
Most students are from White British backgrounds. A very small proportion of students is from
minority ethnic backgrounds and of these a few speak English as an additional language.
More students than is found in most schools join and leave the academy at times other than the
usual start and leaving points.
Courses are provided away from the academy site for a small number of students at Fernhurst
School and at St Thomas's Pupil Referral Unit.
Many students study GCSE courses from Year 9 onwards. The Academy enters students for
GCSE examinations when they consider they are ready to be successful, and this can be before
the end of Year 11.
The academy meets the government's current floor standards. These set the minimum standards
expected for students' attainment and progress.
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