Tower Hamlet’s first free secondary school has secured government funding that will cover the running costs of the new parent-led institution.
Wapping High, set up by a group of parents and backed by actress Dame Helen Mirren, who lives locally, is one of a handful of secondary schools opening in September to have signed a financial agreement approved by the Department for Education.
The funding decision follows a three-year campaign by parents calling for a new secondary school in the Wapping, Shadwell and Limehouse area and aims to improve the quality of education for local children.
Kerstyn Comley, one of the founder members of the Wapping & Shadwell Secondary Education Trust, a group set up by parent campaigners, said: “This is an extraordinary achievement for our community. It is so exciting to be opening our doors in September.”
Catering for 11-16 year olds, 60 places will be on offer for year seven pupils in the first term, expanding to 81 students in each year group after the first year.
The school will teach the national curriculum and offer extended school hours to include breakfast clubs and after-school activities.
A number of students due to be starting in September have already spent one day at the school.
Headteacher Paul Guenault, who was there on the day, said: ‘We had the most enthusiastic and committed students you could wish for. They worked hard and enjoyed learning a Beatles song, launching rockets, creating their own robots and then visited the fascinating Bank of England Museum.”
Jake Kemp, founder and governor, added: “I have to admit I had a tear in my eye as I watched these new students arriving on Friday morning. It was a momentous occasion. To see the glee on the faces of the students as they were describing the day to their parents and carers at four o’clock made the roller-coaster ride that has been the last three years worthwhile. It feels great to be part of a team that has created such an amazing school.”
This will be the first Tower Hamlet’s state-funded secondary school to open for two decades. Canary Wharf College , opened in 2011, was the borough’s first free primary school.
Additional reporting by Debbie Sonaike