Celebrating the success of partnership working with the London Academy of Excellence

Mark BeardIn January, twenty-two LAE students received offers to study at either Oxford or Cambridge University. This fantastic total puts them on a par with a number of the HMC schools which sponsor the Academy. LAE was named as “the best sixth form in the country” by The Sunday Times in 2015 and this week it was placed in 2nd in the DfE’s national performance tables when compared with other sixth forms. Unsurprisingly, this Champions League academy is heavily oversubscribed. Applications have soared, meaning competition for places is fiercer than ever. The Academy was founded with a view to providing outstanding A-Level teaching in Newham, one of London’s poorest boroughs. Headmaster Scott Baker told the press, “With hard work, the aspiration to succeed, excellent teaching and the right support and guidance, there are no limits on what young people can achieve.” Scott Baker and his staff are to be applauded for these fantastic results and, as many of the students receiving these offers from Oxford and Cambridge will be the first in their families to study at university, it is hoped that academies like LAE can do much to address social mobility issues.

At University College School, Hampstead (UCS), we have supported the LAE since 2013. As a school, we pride ourselves on our community links. Our pupils commit countless hours to fundraising for various charities, our Sixth Formers volunteer in local schools and charities every Friday afternoon and our members of staff firmly support our partnerships with local state schools, of which LAE is one. A particular focus of our relationship with LAE has been to endeavour to support their students as they strive to make their aspiration of attaining a university place become a reality. In November, LAE students applying for STEM courses at Oxbridge were invited to an interview training evening at UCS. Each student received two interviews which were given by former UCS students and members of our parent body who had previously studied at Oxford or Cambridge. Students appeared delighted with the detailed feedback they received, which focused on the manner in which they answered the questions as well as the content of the answers themselves. Students applying to study medicine have been invited to other practice interview evenings at UCS over the last two years, and these have given them the opportunities to meet with interviewers from Imperial College and UCL.

We want LAE students to share many of the opportunities which are available to our students at UCS. Every September, students from LAE spend a day at UCS allowing students from both schools to work together in lessons. Close links have been forged between our respective History, Physics and Economics departments and teachers have been able to share ideas in how best to implement the recent changes to the A-Level curriculum. At UCS, one of our teachers delivers an enrichment lecture to our students every fortnight which takes their understanding of a particular subject way beyond the confines of their courses. Our teachers are now also delivering these talks, on subjects as diverse as “The Future of Money” and “Effective Altruism”, to LAE students in Stratford on Wednesday afternoons as part of their enrichment programme.

We have high hopes for our partnership and I look forward to increasing our involvement and supporting LAE and its students every step of the way for years to come.


Mark Beard, Headmaster, University College School