New report praises ‘success story’ of Tower Hamlets schools

Top GCSE grades have fallen for the second year in a row. File picture: David Davies/PA Wire

Top GCSE grades have fallen for the second year in a row. File picture: David Davies/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A new report by academics has praised education in Tower Hamlets as an example “to the education system as a whole” after schools turned around a failing system that was among the worst in the country.

The report, Transforming Education for All: the Tower Hamlets Story, by three educational academics, Prof David Woods, Prof Chris Husbands and Dr Chris Brown, looks at education in the borough and how the improvements were made.

The report says schools in Tower Hamlets are among the best urban schools in the world, with a higher rate of students passing their GCSEs.

In 1997, its schools were rated the worst in the country and the following year Ofsted declared the council’s education department, the best funded in the country, to be failing.

The report notes that in 1998 only 26 per cent of students achieved five or more high-grade GCSEs – well below the national average of 43 per cent.

In 2012, this was up to 61.8 per cent of students achieving five GCSE grades A* to C including English and maths, above the national average of 59.4 per cent.

The authors said in a statement: “The Tower Hamlets story demonstrates that deprivation is not destiny and is an inspiring example to other schools, local authorities and the education system as a whole of what can be achieved.”

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Mayor Lutfur Rahman welcomed the report, saying the transformation of the borough’s schools was “a wonderful success story”.

He said: “This success has been hard won. It is the result of tremendous work by students, parents, headteachers, school staff, council officers and politicians over the past 15 years.”

Mr Rahman added: “All those who have been involved in education in Tower Hamlets since 1998 should feel enormous pride in an achievement that is being held up as a shining example to communities around the world.”