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Duke's Wins Funding To Support Students Most At Risk Of Exclusion

Duke’s Aldridge Academy provides an outstanding education within a vibrant community where the expectation is to excel. Our neighbourhood, the Northumberland Park ward of Tottenham, may be within the top 10% most deprived areas in England, but the core of our Aldridge school culture is that we do all in our power to avoid exclusions and seek to leave no one behind.

Northumberland Park is one of the most multi-cultural wards in the country but also attracts the most deprived rating across numerous deprivation indices including income, employment, health and disability, crime and barriers to housing and services. Insecure and overcrowded housing is a significant problem for many of local families. It is not uncommon for multiple families to be living under the same roof with family members sharing one room between them, with many at risk of eviction. As a result of some of these challenges, many of the school’s students are in the care of extended family members rather than their parents.

Our goal is to build an initiative that clearly demonstrates to parents and carers that Duke’s inclusive approach to maintaining students in education is effectively resourced and sustainable, so that they do not favour new local academies promoting zero tolerance behaviour policies with high exclusion rates and the consequent implications on young lives and the community.

The academy promotes achievement, success, strength of character, tolerance and a love for learning, providing the support to ensure our students become creative, resilient and successful adults. The starting point for this programme is that Duke’s is an inclusive school where a permanent exclusion is an action of the absolute last resort.

In 2019 John Lyon’s Charity, the London Community Foundation, Martin Moshal and the Evening Standard formed a partnership called the Excluded Initiative, seeking bids for innovative projects tackling exclusion.   

With the help of the Aldridge Foundation and with support from sister school Kensington Aldridge Academy, the academy developed a successful funding bid identifying Kensington’s School Within a School initiative as a model that could be translated and locally adapted to meet the needs of our local community. The programme will allow Duke’s to provide that specialist support on site, while maintaining a high level of academic learning.

With the extensive publicity the Standard could achieve, the announcement attracted considerable attention, but in June 2020 we were delighted to receive confirmation that Duke’s was one of just eight schools to be granted funding – in our case through the London Community Foundation.  

Monica Duncan, Duke’s Aldridge Academy Principal, said: “The funding to launch our exclusion initiative will make a real difference to the lives of some of our students and their community. The support of the Foundation in developing our bid and the partnerships necessary to make this initiative successful will have a real impact on helping reduce the need for exclusions. It is incredibly valuable and appreciated.”

This initiative, led by the Evening Standard and the London Community Foundation, will enable Duke’s to provide specialist support on site for students struggling to build a positive attitude to learning or to address underlying issues they may have.

Importantly, they will still continue their academic learning alongside this specialist support. It will make a real difference to the lives of those young people, helping them to remain engaged in education and on the road to fulfilling their potential.

We are grateful to the Evening Standard and the London Community Foundation for awarding Duke’s funding for this initiative, and look forward to sharing learning and outcomes from the unit with other schools to enable others to establish similar life-changing initiatives.”