NEWS, INFO & Activities

NEWS, INFO & Activities

Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio School


About studio schools


students develop key employability and life skills through the create skills framework

key qualifications

all students work towards qualifications at Levels 2 and 3 which have currency in the working world

personalised curriculum

students meet frequently with their "personal coach"  to tailor to their individual needs and aspirations

practical learning

students' learning is delivered principally through multi-disciplinary enterprise themed projects in the school, local businesses and the community

real work

students spend a significant portion of their weekly time in work, with students aged over 16 earning a wage

small schools

students learn in a small, supportive and personalised learning environment of around 250 students


About aldridge education

The Studio is a member of the Aldridge Education family of schools, which locally also includes Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, Darwen Vale High School, Sudell Primary School and UTC Mediacity. Aldridge Education is a charitable Trust of entrepreneurial community schools and colleges that help young people to reach their potential. We support our schools’ Principals and teachers in rapidly improving the quality of education on offer at early years, primary, secondary and sixth-form levels in order to transform the life-chances of our students.


Our vision is that every student at an Aldridge school will achieve academically beyond initial personal expectations and prior attainment. Their learning and experiences in education will give them a wide perspective on the opportunities open to them and they will develop the practical skills to access every opportunity they want in life. Aldridge Education was established as a national multi-academy trust by the Aldridge Foundation in 2016, taking over responsibility from the Foundation for its family of non-selective academy schools and colleges. Our shared belief is that by introducing young people to, and helping develop in them, the core attributes of entrepreneurship, we can provide context and relevance to their learning, fostering creativity, passion, determination, risk taking, problem solving and teamwork. These characteristics help our students achieve in their education and acquire further vital skills for adult life.


For more information about Aldridge Education please visit their website, and to view the Trust’s statutory information including their Instruments and Articles of Government, Annual Members’ Report, Audited Financial Statement and their Accounts, please visit here. To contact the Trust please click here.


Aldridge Education, 3rd Floor, 8 City Rd, London, EC1Y 2AA

 Telephone: 0207 297 0340


Dress code

As a young person developing on a career pathway we think it is important that individuality and maturity is demonstrated through appearance. With this in mind the Studio has a dress code instead of a uniform. We believe it important that our Studio students appear professional and ready for work at all times.


Dark suit / Dark skirt, thick leggings or trouser suit

Plain shirt or blouse of any colour

Black footwear

Studio tie – to be purchased from Darwen uniform shop 

Studio ID badge and lanyard – to be provided on induction.

Please note that the following are not considered professional dress, and will not be permitted at the Studio:-

Heads should not be shaved – a Number 1 cut is the shortest permitted

Open-toed shoes/sandals

Hooded tops in classrooms

Subtle, professional make-up and nail varnish will be permitted.



All Black top and bottoms

black Trainers


Post-16 Dress Code

 Professional dress appropriate for the specialist pathway of study.

 Studio ID badge and lanyard – to be provided on induction.



As a member of the Aldridge Education family of schools our Local Governing Committee is part of the overall governance structure of the multi-academy trust. You can see details of the Trust’s governance by clicking here

Details of the Trust’s policies that the school and our Local Governing Committee follow can be found by clicking here.

As a member of the Aldridge Education family of schools, our Local Governing Committee is part of the overall governance structure of the multi-academy trust.  Please see the Aldridge Education website for further information on Governing Policies and Accountability.

Ian Clark – Chair of Governing Committee

Ian has been a member of the DAES governing body since the studio was set up, and became Chair of the Governing Committee in September 2017. He is really keen to promote the unique educational offer that DAES has, and believes the studio can be a fantastic educational asset for the young people of Darwen and beyond. Ian takes a particular interest in education, health and housing issues, and sits on a number of other boards in these sectors. In his day job, Ian is the Group Director of Strategy and Communications at a company with a £200m turnover operating across the North of England. 

Lee Berry - Staff Governor


I joined the Studio School in June 2014 as the Assistant Principal for Behaviour and Welfare. My day to day duties involve supporting young people and families with intervention strategies around behaviour, welfare, attendance and punctuality. I am the Deputy Safeguarding Lead for the school and I represent the Studio at most of the multi-agency meetings for children receiving support from Children’s Services. This includes participating in the formulation of support strategies for families in need within a multi-agency context. I also manage the Studio Schools attendance reward scheme for those with outstanding attendance over the academic year. I also teach A ‘Level and GCSE History as an additional subject with Year’s 10, 11&12.

Working at the Studio School was my first experience of working outside of Manchester. I was previously employed at the East Manchester Academy and prior to that at Wright Robinson College and St Peter’s High School. I also spent nine years at Manchester City Council’s Crime and Disorder Team in a management capacity, within the Youth Offending Service and the Challenge and Support Team.

I am a sports enthusiast and I currently coach Under 7s and Under 11s football teams in a Greater Manchester youth league. I am also a keen amateur cyclist and walker and I really enjoy these outdoor interests.

I am immensely proud of the Studio School and its achievements over the last few years and my own role in its continued improvement from a leadership perspective and now as a staff governor.

Jackie Furlong

Jackie has extensive clinical knowledge and experience having held senior nursing roles within a number of North West Trusts over the past twenty-five years. Currently, Jackie is the Lead for Nursing Recruitment and Retention at Royal Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

Previously, Jackie was Chair of the North West Theatre Managers Group from 2010 to 2015 and now is currently delivering leadership master classes for aspiring operating theatre managers.

Since 2014, Jackie has been a Business Mentor with Career Ready, mentoring students. Jackie is also a Specialist Advisor for the Care Quality Commission and a Death in Custody Reviewer for NHS England.

Johnny Lighten

Lieutenant Colonel Lighten has been commissioned in the infantry since 1990, more latterly a full time reservist he is an astute soldier  with proven board level experience gained during an exemplary career as a Senior Military Officer and Non-Executive Director for organisations in the housing sector.

Chair, Governor and Trustee to various third sector bodies and former Regional Representative for the National Landlords Association.

 Brings independence, external skills and expertise in strategic planning, policy making, community engagement, change leadership, governance and performance

 Leads by example and “thinks outside the box” to optimise opportunities for collaboration, engage and influence key stakeholders in order to forge strong strategic relationships and produce exceptional results.


Meet the principal

Welcome to Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio. I feel privileged to be leading such a forward-thinking and innovative school, and I hope that you will be as excited as I am about the opportunities that we will offer young people.

Supported by The Aldridge Foundation, and a member of the established and hugely successful Darwen Academy Trust, the Studio will work with students and parents to ensure that everybody achieves their full potential – in GCSEs and A Levels; in professional learning; in work placements, and in gaining the skills and knowledge needed for the next stage of their lives, whether that is going to University or entering the world of work.

For students,what makes us different is not what is offered but how it is delivered. We are taking learning out of a traditional classroom setting, and teaching the curriculum through a range of projects which are based on real life situations, but will still teach you everything you need to be able to pass your exams. These projects will be based in the school, with local employers, and in the local community.

For parents, our ‘whole student’ approach and our commitment to communicating with you and involving you in your child’s learning will mean that you will feel confident in working with us.

At Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio, we believe that there are young people who will flourish when they are taught in small classes and treated like adults and when offered a personalised approach which identifies and supports their individual development needs.

We also know that employers want to recruit young people who are both highly skilled and ready for the real world of work. We will support our students in gaining the skills and confidence that they will need for this.

I know that choosing a school can be one of the toughest decisions to make which is why I am committed to meeting with any young person or parent who wants to find out more and explore their future at our Studio School.

Colin Grand
Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio


Studio School Myths

“The Studio looks like a museum, it can't be a school"

We are a school and college! We have a truly unique building with a great history. We do not look, feel or even smell like a school, all by design. 

"The Studio is part of DACA"

The Studio is a completely different school to DACA. We are part of the same 'family' of schools and form part of a multi academy trust. We do work closely with DACA and are developing great opportunities for post 16 students to be part of a cross campus provision between the Studio and DACA

"The Studio only teaches post 16"

Incorrect. The Studio accepts students from the age of 13. You can join the Studio in Year 9, 10 and 12 as long as there is space in the year group.

"The Studio is a school for naughty students"

Incorrect. We are not a Pupil Referral Unit or alternative provision. We are a mainstream school and insist that students conduct themselves professionally at all times. As we are a small school (250 students) poor behaviour stands out and we do not tolerate disruptions to learning.  

"You have to pay to study at the Studio"

Incorrect. There is no charge to study at the Studio, we are funded as a 'state school.'

"The Studio doesn't teach English, Maths and Science"

Incorrect. We insist that all our KS4 students study core GCSEs in English Language, English Literature, Maths and combined sciences (double GCSE). Students then pick 3 additional options linked to our specialist pathways. 

"You can't join the 6th form if you did not complete KS4 at the Studio"

Incorrect. Students join us at KS5 from a range of schools. We understand that most schools do not offer our specialisms, therefore we provide inductions skill sessions at the start of the year. 

"Students at the Studio do not study approved qualifications"

Incorrect, every course at KS4 and KS5 features on the DfE approved qualifications list. 

"The Studio doesn't have a positive score on league tables, therefore must be a poor standard of education"

As the Studio doesn't offer GCSEs in Humanities or Languages, students complete extra GCSEs in our specialist areas. Whilst all 8 GCSEs count for the student, only 7 count for the Studio on league tables; resulting in a deficit applied to our results when compared to other schools. 

"Students are sent to the Studio if they misbehave at other schools"

Incorrect. Schools cannot refer students to the Studio and the Studio would not accept students who should be referred to alternative provision. Every student who applies to the Studio is interviewed by either the Principal or Vice Principal. This ensures that students who join the Studio are doing so for the specialisms. 

"Don't bother applying to the Studio as the Studio is full"

Incorrect. We do fill up swiftly and by spring term we are usually full with a waiting list but it is always worth giving us a call to see if we can accommodate. 


Our building

Ground floor

  • Three adjacent learning spaces with moveable walls whihc can be opened up for exhibitions of project work. this space can also be used for examinations.
  • large office / communal staff workroom.
  • cafe area seating 75 (the size of one year group)
  • two learning studios
  • small meeting rooms

First Floor

  • Microsoft studio
  • apple studio
  • ict studio
  • graphic art studio
  • photographic and television studio
  • flexible learning spaces
  • two break-out spaces at top of stairs

Second floor

  • Two science laboratories
  • six learning studios of varying sizes
  • three break-out spaces

Online Learning & Remote Education

  • If you have been asked to access microsoft teams, you can do so by following this link and then use the same login details you would as if you were logging into a computer at school. if you are unsure of your login details, please contact us
  • If your teachers have asked you to use century, you can do so by following this link
  • If you have been asked to use Times tables rockstars, you can do so by clicking this link (ks4 only)
  • For access to accelerated reading, click here.
  • If you would like to read our policy regarding remote education, please click here.