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London Academy of Excellence in deprived Stratford gains six Oxbridge places

Head teacher Robert Wilne Head teacher Robert Wilne

Sunday, January 12, 2014
7:14 PM

A free school for sixth-form pupils in Stratford, one of Britain’s most deprived areas, will send six of its students to Oxford or Cambridge University.

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The London Academy of Excellence (LAE) is believed to have secured more Oxbridge offers on its first attempt than all other schools in the borough of Newham last year.

The LAE, a selective sixth-form for 16 to 19 year olds, opened its doors to its first intake of 207 pupils in September 2012 after being set up by independent Brighton College in East Sussex.

Backed by seven other leading public schools, including Eton and Roedean, LAE’s aim is to draw London’s brightest children from poor backgrounds to prepare them for the best universities.

Newham is the second most deprived borough in England with the average free school meal rate in the area around 40 per cent, significantly higher than the national average of around 14 per cent.

Teachers have hailed the Oxbridge success of LAE students Onkar Singh, Zeeshan Iqbal, Olivia Hylton-Pennant, William Sorflaten, Audrey Walela and Amena Ali.

They have received conditional offers to study at Downing, Newnham and Robinson colleges, Cambridge, and Wadham College, Oxford.

Onkar Singh, who aims to study modern foreign languages at Downing College, said: “I chose to apply to Cambridge because having been taught by three teachers at LAE who went to Oxbridge I wanted to acquire the same level of passion and understanding that they brought to every lesson.”

One of the goals of LAE - which was the first sixth-form college to be set up under the Government’s free schools programme - is to promote social mobility.

LAE headmaster Robert Wilne said: “I am delighted that 15 LAE sixth formers were invited for interview at Oxford and Cambridge and that six have secured offers.”

Richard Cairns, head of Brighton College, said his work as a governor at Kingsford Community School in Newham convinced him that there was a need for an academic sixth-form college to prime students for entry to top universities.

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.

Students aiming for a place at LAE have to achieve at least an A grade in the GCSE subjects they want to continue studying in Year 12.

In addition, they also have to have at least five A or A* GCSE grades overall, and at least a B in GCSE maths and English language.

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