First free secondary school in Tower Hamlets given go-ahead

A free school backed by actress Helen Mirren has today been given the go-ahead to open in Tower Hamlets next year.

The Wapping High School is the first free secondary school to open in Tower Hamlets after the borough’s first free primary school, Canary Wharf College, opened last month.

Wapping High School is one of 55 free schools that will be announced by Education Secretary, Michael Gove, in parliament this afternoon.

Chair of the school trust, Kerstyn Comley, said: “We got a call from the Department for Education this morning telling us. We’re absolutely thrilled, it’s fantastic news. We’ve been calling as many parents as we can all morning to tell them.

“We’ve been campaigning for more than two years —it’s a victory for parents wanting to make a difference in the community.”

Ms Comley said Tower Hamlets has a “strong” school community and stressed the school “would like to be part of that community” rather than in “opposition”.

Ms Comley added: “One of the first tasks will be to recruit a strong leadership team, including a headteacher, and parents will be able to apply for places within the next month.”

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The school promises an inclusive policy, catering for children aged 11 to 16, with admissions reflecting local demographics. Almost half the pupils will be entitled to free school meals —a measure of child poverty.

The approval follows a two year parent-led campaign, by The Wapping and Shadwell Secondary Education Trust, supported by 500 families.

MP Jim Fitzpatrick and London Assembly Member John Biggs also endorsed the project.