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Yuppie nursery for Docklands tower block

A new type of private school aimed at yuppies is being built to stop young middle-class families fleeing expensive housing developments in London's east end.

Many high-earning young couples are leaving Docklands after having children because they do not want to use local state schools, housing developers believe.

The Leamouth Peninsula school (see artist's impression, right), due to open in 2010, will be a prep school filling the first six floors of a new block of luxury apartments.

Nursery and reception will be housed on the ground floor, with pupils moving up a floor for each school year. There will be no central playground, instead there will be play decks on each level.

Catering for almost 330 pupils aged from 3 to 11, Leamouth is believed to be the first development of its kind. It hopes to attract pupils living within three miles as well as families living in the apartments.

Ballymore, the developers, are now advertising for groups with experience in providing prep school education to run it. Businesses based in nearby Canary Wharf may also be interested in backing the school for the benefit of its employees, developers believe.

"Young couples with children are moving out of the area because there is no independent school," said Alex MacDonald of Ballymore. "We want them to stay and create a sustainable community. By giving them this choice, we can encourage that."

John Morris, general secretary of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools, welcomed the move. "This seems like an imaginative project," he said. "The independent sector is open to a whole range of different types of schools. If this meets a need, then it is a good idea."

David Marley

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