Free school story: London Academy of Excellence | newschoolsnetwork.org

Free school story: London Academy of Excellence

Eight prestigious private schools including Eton, Caterham and Brighton College have come together to establish of the London Academy of Excellence in the East End of London.

LAE was the first sixth form college to open under the free school programme and now sits opposite Stratford station, within easy reach of the Olympic Park.  Academically rigorous, the Academy aims to help students from the most deprived parts of East London get places at top universities.

It was an ambitious undertaking but the signs are positive. The first class to enter the school will not get their final results until this summer 2014 but already 70% of the current year 13’s AS results are A or B grades, and six have offers from Oxford or Cambridge University.

It is an impressive record for an institution that has existed for less than 18 months and is still putting the finishing touches to its permanent building (an old council office block) having started in temporary accommodation. Visitors report that pioneer spirit that made this possible is evident wherever you turn – from the enthusiasm of teachers focused solely on the 13 ‘facilitating’ subjects that will allow students to access top universities; to the Head Master who left his role at Highgate School – another of the founding partners – to make the school a reality.

Pioneer is an even more apt description of the 250 students who took the plunge to join a school before it had a track record that the impact of the school really becomes clear. They are quick to mention the exchange programme with students at Eton or Highgate and their realisation that these students weren’t that different from them (and certainly aren’t any smarter).