'More articulate than Eton': Newham school rated 'outstanding'

Forest Gate Community School Headteacher Thahmina Begum

Forest Gate Community School Headteacher Thahmina Begum - Credit: Isabel Infantes

An Newham school where kids want to be ‘more articulate than Eton’ has been rated ‘outstanding’. 

Education watchdog Ofsted said that Forest Gate Community School helped its students to become high-flyers and that its “pupils’ behaviour is exemplary” in its latest inspection of the secondary school. 

The school’s head teacher welcomed the latest ‘outstanding’ report – the best rating for schools – and said it was down to Forest Gate’s strong culture which makes its pupils confident and independent.

Head teacher Thahmina Begum added that the Newham school drew strength from its richly diverse teaching staff, which reflected the largely black and minority ethnic (BAME) student body, giving them role models and helping them to feel represented in positions of authority. 

Ms Begum also praised the quality of the teaching staff at Forest Gate, who helped its pupils, many from challenging backgrounds, to win scholarships to fee-paying sixth forms and often go on to top-tier universities, including Oxbridge.

She said: “I think we’ve got very, very, very, very good teachers – I’d argue we’ve got some of the best teachers in the country. I’m biased, I know.

“If you’re a really, really good teacher you’re happier. If you’re a really, really good teacher you’re getting great outcomes from your students."

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She added that the school’s exceptional culture and ethos helped its pupils to perform well in their studies and have the confidence to move on to further education.

She said the school had “a strong sense of social justice, adding that "if anyone visits the school you sense that if you speak to the teachers – there’s a real drive to do right by the children because they come from such challenging backgrounds".

"So you’ll hear phrases like ‘we want to be more articulate than Eton’, ‘we are confident and articulate speakers at Forest Gate Community School’", Ms Begum said. 

“We’ve got a strong drive on oracy, speaking really well, because we know that the links between being able to speak, being able to write and the confidence that brings."

The head teacher added that the school’s approach helped students to reach fee-paying schools on scholarships after they leave, including Eton College.