Derby Pride Academy is an Outstanding Alternative Provision (AP) free school, catering for children who are not thriving in mainstream schools, often because of behavioural difficulties.

The first AP free school to be judged Outstanding by Ofsted was Derby Pride Academy, a joint venture between Derby Moor Sports College and a number of community organisations within the city, including Derby County Football Club. The school, which is now in its third year of operation, will cater to 50 pupils when full. It supports young people between the ages of 11-16 who are facing difficulties at school because of their behaviour.

Derby Pride Academy uses football and other sports to engage, retain and improve attainment, behaviour, attendance, self-esteem and confidence. This use of sport is a growing trend within the sector, which also includes Everton Free School, which is supported by Everton Football Club..

Simon Carnell, who is the head of Derby County in the Community, the charity associated with Derby County Football Club, sees their provision as a second chance for young people who have begun down the wrong path:

“It means that if a child has made one silly choice in life, it need not mean it is the end for them and they will not get lost in the system. We will re-engage them in education and it will supplement the work we already do with schools”.

Making the most of their students’ love of sport Derby Pride Academy believes that the opportunity to be associated with the city’s football club inspires students to focus on health and well-being as part of the curriculum. Throughout the week, for example, each pupil receives physical education session from one of the club’s sports coaches.

Over the past four years the free school programme has seen the creation of 40 new AP schools, with all of those inspected by Ofsted so far rated as Good or Outstanding.

When the school received its Outstanding judgement from Ofsted, the report highlighted the exceptional product of this ability to engage pupils: “In the short time that students attend the academy, their academic achievement improves from poor to outstanding”.