A-LEVELS: Whitechapel’s Swanlea gets 82pc passes in A*-C grades in its best year ever

PUBLISHED: 16:13 18 August 2016 | UPDATED: 13:57 22 August 2016

Swanlea Secondary in Brady Street, Whitechapel

Swanlea Secondary in Brady Street, Whitechapel


A school that has fought off poverty in London’s deprived East End to get its pupils a good start in life has achieved more than 80 per cent A-Level passes in A* to B grades.

Swanlea's principal Brenda Landers... Swanlea's principal Brenda Landers... "School will face cuts"

Swanlea Secondary in Whitechapel has had its best results to date, with more than eight-out-of-10 getting top grades—82pc compared to 73pc last year, while it’s A*-C passes exceeds the national average.

Pupils are now heading for top universities including east London’s own Queen Mary’s as well as UCL, Kings and Birmingham.

But there are still concerns for future funding, especially with uncertainty following the EU exit referendum, for a school drawing its pupils from an area of high poverty and immigration.

“All Tower Hamlets schools will be facing cuts with the introduction of the National Funding formula,” Swanlea’s head teacher Brenda Landers told the East London Advertiser today.

Ikram HussainIkram Hussain

“We don’t know what cuts we’ll face yet, because of the ‘Brexit’ vote. It’s too early to say what effect it will have.

“There’s no doubt rising university fees can act as a deterrent from youngsters from poor backgrounds—we haven’t reached that tipping point yet that puts people off.”

But her pupils and their families “have high aspirations and expect to go to university”.

Ikram Hussain, 19, from Mile End, is heading for LSE next month to study Government and History.

Roda AbokorRoda Abokor

He got three As in economics, maths and history and says: “It’s good to take an interest in politics. I want to go into politics one day.”

Studying in his bedroom each evening rather than hanging about on the streets was a way to pay back his family and those he said invested in his education.

“Someone tutored me free of charge in maths which was my weakest subject,” he explains. “My parents put in a lot of time, even making sure things around the house were kept quiet.

“There were so many personal investments in my education that I feel I have to pay something back.”

The “investment” has now paid off with top A-grades—even at the expense of a social life.

Ikram added: “You have to find a balance between studying and being a teenager.”

It was the same for 18-year-old Roda Abokor from Bethnal Green, who gave up her teenage social life to study—and got three As in biology, chemistry and maths and a B.

She has wanted to be a doctor since the age of 14 and hopes to go to Queen Mary’s medical school in Whitechapel.

“But I may take a gap year first and work in health care,” she tells you. “I’ve been really serious about getting into medicine since Year 10.”

Roda is one of the many pupils from the Whitechapel school working their way out of poverty, arriving with her family as immigrants from Somalia when she was seven.

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