Hundreds of students from across the county will have been getting their books out at school today unaware of the doors that are being opened for them by one of the richest men in the world.
Lincolnshire is not an area of outstanding academies - the recent publication of the Government’s Key Stage 4 results underlines this with just a handful achieving this accolade.
But, when the founder of the David Ross Education Trust, which has 34 schools across the county under its umbrella, was born into the Ross frozen foods dynasty, it is hardly surprising things are changing.
David Ross is setting the bar high to deliver a ‘world-class education’.
Mr Ross visited the Havelock Academy in Grimsby last week – the first school to join the trust 10 years ago – to share his vision.
In spite of growing up in the area and having fond memories of trips to Skegness and Sandilands, there is no denying that, as an Old Uppinghamian with other fellow students including actors Rowan Atkinson and Stephen Fry, he has had a more privileged education than most in the county,
“I had an amazing education and think I did well, even though my teachers may tell you otherwise,” he said.
“But the skills I learned have helped me in a positive way, and that is what I want to share.”
It isn’t where you are educated, but ‘getting a really good start’ that makes all the difference, insists Mr Ross.
And he has an estimated net worth of £1billion from his business ventures to prove it.
In the decade after graduating from Nottingham University he became one of Britain’s most revered entrepreneurs with a lifestyle to match.
He is best known as one original founders of the Carphone Warehouse, but ask him whether he sees himself as a role model and he redirects the conversation to his enthusiasm in giving children the best tools to succeed.
He was reluctant to discuss Carphone Warehouse – in spite of many students immediately being impressed with his links with the mobile phone giant – his focus was about the youngsters and the work of the trust.
The conversation returns to his role as a leader in education. For Mr Ross, it is now all about the children.
He founded the David Ross Education Trust in 2006 with the belief that “every child and young person has passions and talents” and with the intention to “help them discover their strengths by offering them a wide range of world class educational opportunities”.
He said: “I want people to be able to say they had a really good start in life because they were at a great school. A lot of parents are making choices about their children’s education right now. Our number one job is to give children great experiences – to have inspirational teachers who challenge, stimulate and engage students and deliver outstanding lessons. Our key priorities are to provide aspiration, ambition and opportunities. But we also aim to give schools a nice family feel, so the students feel we really do care about them.”
‘Home’ is definitely still where his heart is.
“You can’t grow up in an area without caring about it,” he said. I genuinely believe our schools can continue to improve.”
l The latest Ofsted report for Skegness Grammar School shows a decline from a ‘good school’ to ‘requires improvement’.
A spokesman for sponsor the David Ross Education Trust said: “Earlier in March 2017 we identified areas for improvement, which were noted along with our strengths by Ofsted recently, and have made excellent progress against these.
“The actions we are taking are leading to rapid and sustainable improvements in our school, having recently celebrated nearly 100% of pupils achieving 9-4 grades in GCSE English and Maths and impressive A-Level results which have led to even more of our students studying at top universities.”
WHERE TO FIND DAVID ROSS EDUCATION TRUST SCHOOLS
- Skegness Grammar School (Requires Improvement)
- King Edward VI Academy, Spilsby (Good)
- Eresby Special School, Spilsby (Outstanding)
- Hogsthorpe Primary Academy, Hogsthorpe (Good)
- Barnes Wallis Academy, Tattershall (No rating)
- Thomas Middlecott Academy, Kirton, near Boston (No rating)
- Ingoldsby Academy, Ingoldsby (No rating)