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In the News - Joan Deslandes

Joan is head of Kingsford Community School in Newham, east London. Her school is playing a leading role in a partnership with a group of top independent schools to establish the first sixth-form college for bright teenagers from poor homes.

So, what's the idea? We know that the 2012 Olympics is an opportunity to transform our part of London. We have talked about how we take advantage of the opportunity for regeneration and help our most able pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. The new sixth-form will help prepare students for entry to the best universities.

But why pupils from poor homes?

It's never been tried before, but we have to try everything possible to address stagnant social mobility. There is a huge reservoir of talent in this country that is not able to contribute because of a lack of access to higher education. We need to open our pupils' eyes to higher education and help them win places at top universities.

Who are you teaming up with?

There are 16 comprehensive schools from across London and we will be getting help from leading independent schools, including Brighton College and Harrow, which have a good record of getting their pupils into Russell Group universities.

Will it take bright kids from other sixth-forms?

All the pilot comprehensives are 11-16. We don't want to impact schools with their own sixth-forms.

A disadvantaged home is the criterion for a place?

No, you will need a good set of GCSE results. But all sixth-form colleges have entry criteria so there will be nothing unusual in that. This is for the best brains in deprived areas, to get them into the best universities in the country.

Isn't the sixth-form leaving it too late?

We will also be targeting pupils during key stage 3, supporting them to do academic GCSEs.

Can this idea be used around the country?

I would like to see this model replicated in every city in the country. I'm very confident it will be a success.

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