Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 12:05 UK

Academy sponsor aims for Oxbridge

Rod Aldridge
Rod Aldridge failed his 11 plus and worked for a local authority

A businessman who has pledged to put 2m into a new Brighton academy has said he is convinced it will one day produce Oxford and Cambridge entrants.

Rod Aldridge is sponsor of the proposed Falmer Academy to replace Falmer High School, which last year saw only 24% of pupils gain five good GCSE passes.

"The GCSE results are a long way down on the average, but I don't accept you can't change things," he said.

A public consultation on the changes got under way earlier this month.

Mr Aldridge, who was born in Hove, failed his 11 plus and went to Portslade County School for Boys.

He left at 16 and worked as a post boy for East Sussex County Council before qualifying as an accountant at 23.

This is a very complex part of Brighton with a lot of difficult social issues but I believe you have to start somewhere
Rod Aldridge

He later went on to found the Capita Group, which is now a FTSE 100 company, employing 27,000 people.

He said he still felt angry about the effect of his 11 plus failure.

"You did feel second-class and you undoubtedly felt you got an inferior education," he said.

Mr Aldridge resigned from Capita in 2006 following a row over loans to the Labour Party and set up the Aldridge Foundation.

Falmer High School is among the least popular in Brighton, with one third of its places empty.

The new academy will specialise in business and leadership.

"It is a wonderful opportunity because it provides a fresh start," said Mr Aldridge.

"This is a very complex part of Brighton with a lot of difficult social issues but I believe you have to start somewhere.

"I am convinced that from this school somebody will go to Oxford or Cambridge, somebody will be a great entrepreneur, somebody will be a great sportsman.

"What we need to do is find them, stimulate them and celebrate them."

Parents and local residents have until 4 July to respond to the six-week consultation.

If they are in favour of the academy, it will open in 2010 on the same site, with a new building expected to be opened by 2011.




SEE ALSO
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08 May 08 |  Lancashire
Schools to give places by lottery
28 Feb 07 |  Education
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23 Mar 06 |  UK Politics

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