The London Academy of Excellence (LAE), praised by ex-Education Secretary Michael Gove
as a ‘superb new free school’ with ‘amazing successes’ has been accused of culling students not likely to gain high enough grades to enter Russell Group universities.
East Ham MP, Lyn Brown, said she would investigate what has happened at the Newham school, Academies Week
reveals in an exclusive.
judged LAE as Good in March 2014 but expressed concern that not enough students were making the progress indicated by their high GCSE grades (a requirement for admission to LAE) when compared with similar students elsewhere. Ofsted also said high teacher turnover caused inconsistency in the quality of teaching and learning.
Nothing in LAE’s admission policy for 2014
prepared students for the possibility they might be asked to find another college if they failed to achieve high AS level grades. LAE’s head, John Weeks, confirmed to Academies Week
that students were only told of the requirement after they’d begun their studies. He said, ‘A number of students, following school based and independent careers guidance given both before and immediately after AS results day, have moved to other institutions who offer a broader range of courses. These moves will give them the best opportunity to secure places on university courses that are right for them.’
But these decisions have been criticised by Eddie Playfair, head of Newham’s NewVic College which has accepted several ex-LEA students, for its destabilising and demoralising effect. Geoff Barton, head of King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, told Academies Week
‘We know that selective sixth forms can make themselves appear more narrowly successful by “culling” groups of students who get disappointing AS results. But it hardly seems in the spirit of the free school programme, designed, we were told, to broaden access to academic success in disadvantaged areas. Nor does it seem value-for-money for taxpayers.”
The practice by some schools of persuading pupils who don’t get high AS level grades to go elsewhere has been highlighted on this site before (see here
). But, as Eddie Playfair said:
‘...it does seem to me that those providers who do have a very high threshold to progress from first to second year are not keeping faith with their students…The more providers which do that, the more movement there is going to be and more students who will be affected by this. Ideally I would prefer to see us all taking responsibility in our role, whether students do well or not.’
Read about the success of Newham’s NewVic College here