Free School receives six Oxbridge offers

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The London Academy of Excellence (LAE), located in the deprived area of Stratford, will send six students to Oxford and Cambridge in its first crop of graduating students.

Founded in 2012 as part of the Free School Programme, LAE is a state-funded sixth form college based on principle of ‘social mobility’. With the support of its eight independent school partners including Eton, it aims to prepare pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to aim for the best universities.

LAE is situated in the borough of Newham, one of the poorer areas in England, which are underrepresented in the top tier universities. The six Oxbridge offers it has received already exceeds that of every other school in the area last year.

Four students are holding conditional offers to study at Downing, Newnham and Robinson College, Cambridge. Two students will attend Wadham College in Oxford if they achieve their grades in the summer.

Richard Cairn, who initiated the project as headmaster of Brighton College, said that he realised the necessity of establishing an academically-focused sixth form school whilst serving as a Governor for a community school in Newham,

He said “Too many youngsters I spoke to thought that university was not for them. Even those who had aspirations to go to university were choosing A-level subjects like sociology and media studies that were of limited value in securing offers from the best institutions.”

“I realised that we needed to provide a curriculum that focused on those hard subjects that Russell Group universities tend to demand.”

Whilst the school is government funded, LAE draws on the resources and expertise of its independent school partners. Teachers at LAE receive mentoring support and feedback from some of the most experienced faculty at the partner schools.

The academy’s headmaster, Robert Wilne, said, ”So if I want a scheme of work for maths, I go to to Highgate and ask for that. The head of economics at Brighton College is de facto head of economics here.” In LAE’s first year, 70% of the students achieved A or B grades in AS Level last summer, compared to the national average of 52.9%.

A first year PPEist commented, “I think it is very important that the background you are born into does not determine where you go in the future. I just hope more partnerships of this kind can be adopted elsewhere so that more students can get good educational resources.”

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