lIFE AFTER BACA COLLEGE
We love to here from our BACA alumni and how they are getting on after their studies at BACA College. See how some of our ex-pupils are getting on and how the Academy made an impact on their further education.
How Baca Helped us Succeed
Caspian Armani - Former BACA College student
‘If you can’t find a job, make a job.’ That’s what my dad always told me.
I’ve been involved in catering since I was eleven years’ old, helping out at the soup kitchen my family used to run. After that there was the juice stand at the Brighton Farmers’ Market – we called ourselves Pulp Friction – then a couple of burger restaurants; I worked my way up to Assistant Manager before I turned sixteen! Catering’s hard work, but I loved food, was so passionate about it. I knew I wanted to make it my career and for that I needed a qualification, so I called up one of the big further education colleges in Brighton, only they didn’t want to know. My experience counted for nothing; I’d been home-schooled all my life and I guess that was all they could see. They told me there was no space for someone like me there, someone who didn’t have GSCEs.
I was pretty disheartened, but I’ve always believed that if there’s an opportunity for success, you shouldn’t let yourself fail, so I made another call, and it turned out there was somewhere that had a space for me, right here in my home town: Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA). They signed me up to study Catering and Entrepreneurship, and take my Maths and English GCSEs. The support the Head Chef and Head of Entrepreneurship gave me over the year was incredible, helping me get to further education after all. I’m now taking my Level Three Diploma in Professional Catering and I’m more determined than ever to make it my career.
The Aldridge Academy wasn’t just a gateway to qualifications though. It was a whole new way of learning. When you’re in the workplace, especially somewhere as tough as the commercial kitchen, there’s no room for failure and not much variety: you’re plating up the same dish fifty times a day! The Aldridge approach gives you the space to be creative and innovate – you’re even encouraged to take risks, and not be afraid to mess up sometimes. There’s structure too; I used to get frustrated sometimes at the set school hours, but now I’m at college, with all the freedom that brings, I miss it. I’ve learned that you need structure and self-discipline alongside passion. That’s why I’ve set up my own breakfast bar at the local farmers’ market at weekends. I source all the products from the other stallholders and my customers sit at bar stools, so we can chat while they eat. It’s a great way to be part of my community and that’s what I want my business to be about – community. Enterprise and social conscience go hand in hand: we should all remember that.
Lily Cai - Former BACA student
"Business and Enterprise were built into the curriculum when I was at the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy. You might think those things only relevant for people looking to start their own companies but that’s not the case. I’m in my third year at Imperial College London, studying medicine, and the Aldridge ethos has helped me navigate the huge gap I found between school and university. You go there with big aspirations, but you need the perseverance and determination to push on through with them; to take knock-backs and meet challenges head on. You learn that at an Aldridge school.
I want to use my skills in the future to help struggling communities. There’s a team of us at Imperial working with a Nepalese NGO to help raise funds to build schools and improve conditions for local women. I was there last summer, teaching first aid. It’s incredible to have the chance not just to identify the problems, but to help address some of them. That wasn’t the first time I’ve had such an opportunity: Aldridge schools encourage learning outside the classroom both locally and abroad, and in Year 10 I applied to go to Mumbai to see some different educational models in practice, including an orphanage that helped kids learn through sport. To go on the trip, you had to produce something that showcased the Aldridge entrepreneurial attributes, so I photo-documented all my voluntary work with Oxfam and Girlguiding! The trip itself was incredibly motivating; I came home and redoubled my efforts at revision!
My mum’s always told me you have to rely on yourself: if you’ve the Aldridge Attributes drilled into you, then you can do just that."
Will Sheffield - FORMER Aldridge Cricket Academy student
"I’ve been playing cricket since I was seven. I tried football and rugby, but cricket was the one I became passionate about. You have to love a thing if you’re going to work hard and give it the time to get good. By 14, I was playing in the senior teams at my club – that meant being up against guys who were 20, 21 – but it wasn’t enough. I knew by then I wanted cricket to be my career and the school I was at wasn’t going to help me get there. So when I turned sixteen I joined the Aldridge Cricket Academy, part of the sixth-form at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy. The Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre’s facilities and the teaching are incredible: you don’t just get coached in what to do – you’re taught how and why as well. So you learn to think creatively about the game. I’m doing a BTECH in Sport to get my Level 3 diploma, with a subsidiary diploma in Sport & Exercise Science, and will go on to university to study Sport and Exercise Science – either at Brighton or Durham
Cricket’s a team sport, but at an Aldridge school you don’t just experience that on the pitch. My classmates and I coordinated training sessions for younger players: you had to plan them and evaluate them, making sure they ran as smoothly as possible and not panic when things didn’t work out. After those training sessions we then had to run a whole tournament! I chaired our group of four, which meant that in addition to having my own role and responsibilities, I also had to keep the group on target and on deadline. I learned how to juggle my workload, manage my time, and think on my feet when problems cropped up.
In March I was selected by Sussex Cricket to join their professional squad on their pre-season tour to South Africa. It was incredible – the intensity was at a completely different level, and the speed in the field was exceptional. And all with Table Mountain in the background! An amazing experience."
Will has subsequently been selected in the Sussex County Cricket first team squad for their opening County Championship matches of the season.