Wapping High signs deal as Tower Hamlets’ first state-funded Free school

17:33 30 July 2012

The new Wapping High School in Commercial Road

The new Wapping High School in Commercial Road

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Funding to run the first Free secondary school in London’s East End has got the green light from Whitehall.

The Department for Education has signed a financial agreement to run the new Wapping High School, the first state-funded secondary to open in Tower Hamlets for 20 years.

The deal follows a long campaign by parents who felt isolated from local education facilities.

The school opens in September for youngsters from all backgrounds aged 11 to 16, with 41 families having accepted places so far, and is expected to meet its target of 60 pupils in the first term.

The first few starting in September have already spent a day at the school.

Head-teacher Paul Guénault revealed: “They enjoyed learning a Beatles song, launching rockets, creating their own robots and visiting the Bank of England.”

The new school was intended to serve parents in Wapping and Shadwell who feel cut off by The Highway—but ironically has not managed to find a suitable site in its heartland catchment area. Instead, it found a smart office block further north in Commercial Road.

The parents who set up the school achieved their goal without having to rely on a project management company.

Trust chairman Jon Cheyne explained: “We have a team with its own experience in education and project management, which had a clear vision of what it wanted the school to achieve.”

The school day will be extended for a diverse programme alongside the national curriculum, with pupils encouraged “to take responsibility for their own success.”

Their campaign was backed by Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick and personalities living in the area including actress Dame Helen Mirren.

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