Inside Parliamment: Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, talks about Newham schools

Schools in Newham have long been improving. This year, many of our secondary schools bucked the national trend, increasing the number of pupils achieving A*- C grades when in other areas the numbers were falling.

I became a Governor at Little Ilford School in 1984, and was later Chair of Governors, so I have followed it closely for a long time. My successors, particularly Ian Powell and, now, Simon Mares, both parents who have been deeply committed to the school, have done a great job. This year a whopping 71% of its students achieved more than 5 A*- C grades. Last month, Ofsted inspected Little Ilford with half a day’s notice. They rated the school as “Outstanding”. In fact, it was rated outstanding – the highest grade on offer – in four of the five areas the inspectors looked at.

The Ofsted report is a joy to read. “The most able students attained a significantly higher number of A* to A grades at GCSE ... Students make outstanding progress, including those known to be eligible for free school meals, and those who speak English as an additional language. This is especially the case for disabled students ... The quality of teaching over time is outstanding ... Students take pride in their work and the school-wide literacy strategies are highly effective in contributing to improving standards in all subjects ... Students feel extremely safe at all times.”

The report is also clear - and correct - in identifying the source of Little Ilford’s success. It describes headteacher, Yvonne Powell, who has been at the school for nine years, as a “passionate and relentless headteacher, [who] has transformed the school.”

Unfortunately for us, Yvonne will soon become principal of Walworth Academy in Southwark. She has done a superb job. And this report is a fitting tribute to her work.