THE Darwen Aldridge Community Academy has been named one of the the best schools in Europe for entrepreneurial education this year.

The school, along with 11 others across the continent, won the Entrepreneurial School of the Year award for the UK and staff will be invited to celebrate in the European Parliament in Brussels.

DACA was selected based on its outstanding resources and teaching and Sir Rod Aldridge, chairman of the Academy’s sponsor, thinks the achievement is reflective of the huge impact the school has had on young people.

He said: “We established the Aldridge Foundation because an entrepreneurial education can transform young peoples’ lives, and I am very proud that our first Academy in Darwen has received recognition for that.

“By focusing on the development of entrepreneurial qualities, students combine academic success with the confidence to solve problems.

“As we have seen in Darwen, this changes students’ life chances as they enter university and the world of work.”

The awarded schools were chosen based on criteria such as the inclusion of a vision and strategy in entrepreneurship education, resource allocations, teachers’ training and community engagement.

DACA was the first school in the country to specialise in entrepreneurship and it has grown from 735 students in 2008 to over 1,300 in 2015 making it the largest school in the borough.

It is a unique establishment in that it employs an Entrepreneurship Team and houses an Entrepreneurship Bridge consisting of 11 incubation units free for under 25s who reside in the local area.

Since 2013 the students have participated in 14,720 entrepreneurial activities. These include 63 national enterprise contests, 400 work placements, 42 start-up businesses and 1,500 in international experience.

Record numbers of students have been going to university this year with 70 per cent being the first in their family to do so and Brendan Loughran, the principal, said he is delighted that the school’s achievements have been recognised internationally.

He said: “The achievement is testimony to the dedication of everyone who has worked with us.”