Free school story: City Gateway


City Gateway opened in September 2012, as one of the first group of Alternative Provision Free Schools in the country.

The school was set up by the City Gateway social enterprise, as extension of the work they have been doing with the community in Tower Hamlets since 1999.

The school focuses on vocational education and work based learning, with the aim of helping pupils who are not thriving within mainstream and who are at risk of exclusion, gaining the qualifications and skills they need to enter employment. Linking to the other programmes that the organisation provides allows the school to tailor their support to the particular need of the pupils. For some, they offer what they call ‘traineeships’, which combine work placements with employability training and targeted maths and English support. For others, they source high quality apprenticeships in organisations such as The Economist, The Royal Opera House, Goldman Sachs and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

Throughout their time at the school pupils study a combination of vocational subjects, such as performing arts, construction and childcare, with core GCSEs and a bespoke readiness for work programme. When City Gateway Academy was inspected in 2014, receiving an ‘Outstanding’ judgement, the effectiveness of these programs was praised:

“An exceptionally high proportion of 16- to 19-year-old learners progress into further education, training or employment, with a large majority progressing into City Gateway’s outstanding apprenticeship programme.”

Since opening their first provision, City Gateway academy trust has been approved to open two further schools in East London.