An East London school in one of the city’s most deprived areas where kids want to be “more articulate than Eton” has been rated outstanding. Education watchdog Ofsted said that Forest Gate Community School helped its students to become high-flyers and that its “pupils’ behaviour is exemplary” in its latest inspection of the secondary school.
The school’s head teacher welcomed the latest “outstanding” report – the best rating for schools – and said it was down to Forest Gate’s strong culture which makes its pupils confident and independent.
Head teacher Thahmina Begum added that the Newham school drew strength from its richly diverse teachers, reflecting the largely black and minority ethnic (BAME) student body, giving them role models and helping them to feel represented in positions of authority.
Ms Begum also praised the quality of the teaching staff at Forest Gate, who helped its pupils, many from challenging backgrounds, to win scholarships to fee-paying sixth forms and often go on to top-tier universities, including Oxbridge.
READ MORE:The East London school where kids wear tracksuits and get a break every half hour – and it’s loved by Ofsted
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She said: “I think we’ve got very good teachers – I’d argue we’ve got some of the best teachers in the country. I’m biased, I know.
“If you’re a really, really good teacher you’re happier. If you’re a really, really good teacher you’re getting great outcomes from your students. If you’re a really, really good teacher you feel invested in, because the school you’re going to every single day is looking out for you.”
She added that the school’s exceptional culture and ethos helped its pupils to perform well in their studies and have the confidence to move on to further education.
She said the school had “a strong sense of social justice, and if anyone visits the school you sense that if you speak to the teachers – there’s a real drive to do right by the children because they come from such challenging backgrounds. So you’ll hear phrases like ‘we want to be more articulate than Eton’, ‘we are confident and articulate speakers at Forest Gate Community School’.
Ms Begum later added: “We’ve got very good outcomes in this school because of all these things, but what I’ve found is when they go to college or interview settings or the world of work, they’re suddenly in an environment where there are people who don’t necessarily look like them or sound like them, and they lack confidence in areas where they don’t see themselves in those around them.
“We want to work on that aspect so that, yes, they’ve got the academic ability and then those brilliant outcomes, that level playing field, but also they have the confidence it takes to not become reserved and shy and do themselves an injustice in arenas where they see people that don’t look like them.”
She later said that the school’s approach helped students to reach fee-paying schools on scholarships after they leave, including Eton College. She added that the diversity of teachers was also fundamental to pupils feeling confident in their studies, which helped them to secure high grades and top school places.