THE man who has put his name and money into the Darwen academy has insisted “it’s not all about me.”

Rod Aldridge, who made his fortune by founding the Capita Group, was present at official opening of the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy on the former Darwen Moorland School site today.

He has pumped £2million of his own money into the academy ‘to stop pupils failing at school like I did’.

Mr Aldridge admitted he had “massively underachieved” - failing the 11-plus examination and leaving school with the equivalent of only five GCSEs.

He said: “When I was at school my options were limited. There wasn’t much careers advice.

“But I found my way through a career in the public sector and it changed my life.

“I want to encourage young people to at least consider the option of starting a business.

“I want to lift their aspirations and maybe we will find a really successful entrepeneur.”

Mr Aldridge chose to sponsor the Darwen academy because he had built up a good relationship with officers at Blackburn with Darwen Council in business dealings, and knew them as “fair but hard task masters”.

But questions have been raised over how much power Mr Aldridge wields over the academy.

Defending his position, he said: “It’s important to point out that it’s not all about me.

“I selected the principal, will be chair of governors and decided the specialism, but this is very much a partnership between all stakeholders.

“I do not have control over the school’s money and I do not set the curriculum.

“My biggest job is to own the vision and own the intent to make it work”.

He added: “There is a lot of talk about this as education being privatised, but it’s not about politics.

“Whether it’s Labour or the Tories in power, they all support what we are trying to do wih academies.”

Hundreds of homes in the Redearth Triangle have been bulldozed to make way for the new £48million academy building which is set to open in 2010.

But Mr Aldridge defended the decision to place the building in the centre of the town.

He said: “It will lift the whole area. I don’t say it lightly.

"It’s part of the whole regeneration of the town.”