The Duchess of Cambridge opens KAA
This morning Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge visited Kensington Aldridge Academy and attended the official opening ceremony of the school.
Principal David Benson led the Duchess of Cambridge on a tour of the school, accompanied by Janice Shiner, head of the board of Governors, Sir Rod Aldridge, founder of the academy’s lead sponsor the Aldridge Foundation, and Councillor Paget-Brown and Councillor Will from the academy’s co-sponsor, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The first stop was a Reading Champions class taking place in the library. The Duchess spent time speaking at length with students about their favourite books, and KAA’s unique Morning Reading programme. Ali Osman confidently told the Duchess “in this school we do something different – we do half an hour of reading every morning.” Lana Harouki told the Duchess that she had improved her confidence by reading every morning, and Tyler Mouricette-Johnson thought “she seemed interested in what everyone wanted to say.”
The visit continued with a short visit to a Geography lesson, in which students were learning about different types of primary economic activity. Safiyah McGee, a student in this lesson, reflected afterwards that “the Duchess was interested in our Geography lesson and she knew what we were learning about.” Mr Benson then introduced Her Royal Highness to specialist staff from the academy’s Grandin Centre, a unit within the academy that provides specialist provision for students with social and communication difficulties, including autism and Aspergers syndrome. Ms Divine and Miss Mark took the Duchess into a History lesson to meet some of the students they work with across the school.
The Duchess and guests were then invited to an assembly to mark the official opening of the academy. After a short address from Mr Benson, a student from each of KAA’s four houses spoke about one of the academy’s core values; Excellence, Resilience, Citzenship and Creativity, and the school motto; Intrepidus. The readers – Andet Paj, Maisie Wiggins, Rene Campbell, and Kashelle Phillip – were then introduced to the Duchess before she unveiled a plaque marking the official opening of KAA.
After the short assembly Her Royal Highness, shaking hands and greeting students on her way out, was conducted on a tour of the Kensington Creates pods in the atrium of the academy by Creates Director Natalie Campbell. The Creates initiative gives young entrepreneurs from the local community the space to run their business, whilst simultaneously inspiring students with their entrepreneurial initiatives. Lisa and Tida Finch, founders of Finchittida Finch jewellery design, run an extremely popular Creates Enrichment allowing students to design and make their own jewellery – which they are then given the opportunity to sell at Portobello Market. One student that has worked with the Finchittida Finch entrepreneurs during Enrichment, Sarah Abi Osman, was thrilled that the Duchess admired the jewellery the students have created, and told her that she wants to become the boss of a company in the future.
Mr Benson’s remark during the opening ceremony best sums up the exciting morning we had at the academy – “We will have many firsts to be proud of at KAA, but I find it hard to believe there will be any day more important than this.”