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Sixth form launches elocution and etiquette lessons for students to help them compete with the elite

PUBLISHED: 17:03 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:33 28 June 2019

Mouhssin Ismail is the principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form. Picture: Asian Media Group

Mouhssin Ismail is the principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form. Picture: Asian Media Group

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Mouhssin Ismail, principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form. Picture: Asian Media GroupMouhssin Ismail, principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form. Picture: Asian Media Group

A top-performing sixth form in the borough is giving students elocution and etiquette lessons so they can compete with their independent school peers.

Newham Collegiate sixth form (NCS) in Barking Road, East Ham, is offering the classes to help students who secure top jobs after university make their mark in their elite professions.

They have introduced a "finishing school" where students, many of whom are from immigrant backgrounds, learn how to sound more polished and confident and are given the necessary skills to succeed at interview and beyond.

The sixth form has helped 95 per cent of pupils get into Russell Group universities for two years in a row despite serving one of the poorest boroughs in the country.

But headteacher Mouhssin Ismail, who gave up a six-figure salary as a city lawyer to become a teacher, says pupils are falling short after graduating.

He said: "We were finding that students were not able to access the top professions even if we had helped to get them to Oxford or Cambridge.

"And even if they were getting in, they were stagnating. What we are trying to do is give these students a type of education that those that they will be competing with get as a virtue of their upbringing. This requires a holistic approach one where we support them during and after their time with us."

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"I suppose you can call it a finishing school but actually the purpose is to level the playing field, give these students a chance not only to excel academically but after they finish their formal education.

"Rather than complain it is not fair that private school students take all the best jobs we are trying to do something about it."

The students also taught how to meet and greet formally, which cutlery to use when fine dining and appropriate conversation topics.

It comes after a joint report from the Sutton Trust & social mobility commission found top professions are still dominated by the elite with those who went to private school five times more likely to climb to the top across a range of industries.

Part of the City of London Academies Trust, NCS keeps in contact with its leavers so they can offer support after they finish A Level and university.

Mouhssin said: "They are so bright yet when they finish university and enter into the professional world many suffer from imposter syndrome; they do not feel like they belong.

"They can't talk to their bosses and their parents won't understand because they never worked in that environment, so we offer them a resource here at NCS. Guidance and mentoring by people who are experienced and can help get through some of the challenges they face."

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