Eton-backed free school is top of the class

The Times, 17/01/15, a free school that opened three years ago in a deprived London borough has had almost 2,000 applications for places, making it one of England’s most sought-after schools. HMC member schools Brighton College, Eton College, City of London Boys, Highgate School and Forest School feature.

It means that the London Academy of Excellence, in Newham, east London, has about 10 teenagers competing for every place.

The academy, backed by several independent schools including Eton, is a specialist sixth form offering 13 A levels in the subjects most valued by leading universities. It requires candidates to achieve at least five A or A* grades at GCSE, which must include their chosen A-level subjects, and a B or higher in maths and English language.

John Weeks, the headmaster, attributed the applications to the strength of its first A-level results and the university success rate of its students. Five pupils won places at Oxford or Cambridge and 72 were admitted to Russell Group universities, after 40 per cent received grades of AAB or higher.

As a free school, it controls its own admissions. With applications to start in September due to close today, it has received 1,950 requests for places, and the headmaster predicted this would rise above 2,000.

It has applied to the Department for Education to raise the number it can accept in the autumn from 200 to 250 and may seek to expand further in future. “We may have to move buildings in future if demand stays as it is,” Mr Weeks said. “Around half of applicants are from the local borough, as the founders intended, but it has attracted growing interest across east London.”

It is supported by private schools including Brighton College, Eton, City of London Boys, Highgate and Forest School.

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