Posted on: November 20th 2015

LAE named "Best Sixth Form in the Country" by the Sunday Times

The London Academy of Excellence got the best A level results of any sixth form college in England, according to a survey published this Sunday, despite its position in the second most deprived borough in the country.

LAE was set up in the shadow of the Olympic Park in Stratford, in the borough of Newham, in September 2012 with 180 pupils on its roll. The average free school meal rate – an indicator of low income households – in Newham is 40%, compared to the national average of 14%.

Now LAE has topped the national sixth form charts in the Sunday Times’ Parent Power survey, published this Sunday, and has been named the best sixth form college in the country 2015/16, with 39% of pupils scoring AAB in at least two of the so-called hardest “facilitating” subjects (those most sought after by the Russell Group universities).

Of the LAE cohort achieving these top grades, 89% lived in the most deprived 20% of England postcodes, according to the Income Deprivation Affecting Children (IDACI).

Some 80% of the current pupils at the school will be the first in their families to go to university. Certainly they have successful peer role models, with 90% of the 2014 leavers going directly to university, five of whom secured places at Oxbridge.

LAE was the brainchild of Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, and is supported by independent schools including Eton College, Caterham, Highgate, City of London School, Forest School and University College School. HSBC provided initial funding and offers resources and support.

Said LAE Headmaster John Weeks: “This is about raising aspirations amongst the poorest children in our community. Many of the students arriving at the school now took it upon themselves at the ages of 15 and 16 to research our results and figure out the opportunities that we can offer. They didn’t rely on anyone else to do it for them. They are bright, very bright, and they are spotting an opportunity to make the most of their talents. That makes everyone associated with the school very proud indeed. This school is a fantastic example of the independent schools sector and the state sector working together to maximise the life chances of children from one of the most deprived areas in the country.”

Mr Cairns’ work as a governor at Newham’s Kingsford Community School convinced him that there was a need for an academic sixth form college in the borough that would help bright students get into top universities.

He said: “When I spoke to young people in Newham, I heard too many times from them that they thought that university was not for them. And even those who did want to go to university were choosing to study subjects like media studies and sociology that really were of limited value in securing offers from the best institutions.

“It made me think that it was important that we provide a curriculum that focused on the hard ‘facilitating’ subjects that Russell Group universities want. So I joined forces with Kingsford’s Joan Deslandes and approached our partner independent schools to get this off the ground. I can’t tell you how delighted I am, three years on, to see LAE flourish like this.”

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, added “this is fantastic news for a school that is offering young people a top class educational experience for all. Staff should take a bow for helping students achieve high attainment levels and ensuring they get the best start on whatever academic or career path they take.”