Educating the many, not the few, is our USP

17th June 2011 at 01:00

Joan Deslandes claims that helping our most able sixth-form students from disadvantaged backgrounds get to top universities has "never been tried before" ("In the news", 10 June).

This apparently justifies inviting a group of exclusive fee-paying schools to run a super-selective sixth-form in east London. I guess the evidence on her doorstep just wasn't compelling enough.

Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) is just a few hundred yards from Ms Deslandes' school. Our university applicants have a higher progression rate (87 per cent) than the average for independent schools and we work hard to encourage and support our Oxbridge and Russell Group applicants, including through a pioneering enrichment project with Pembroke College, Oxford.

Three of our students have Oxbridge offers this year and we have a brilliant record with medical school applications. We are developing an honours programme to build on this success and address the challenges Ms Deslandes raises.

Last year our top 30 advanced candidates achieved the same very high average point score per student as Brighton College's 159 candidates. As a proportion of this cohort, our likely Oxbridge progression rate of 10 per cent is very close to Brighton's 12 per cent, despite the big disparity in resources and the other barriers our applicants face. Our students and their parents value this and understand that we can be successful while serving the whole community, not just the select few.

Eddie Playfair, Principal, NewVIc, London.

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