Harris Federation and Westminster School: New Sixth Form Free School for academically gifted teenagers in London
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The Harris Federation and Westminster School have announced plans for a new academically selective Sixth Form Free School.
The Harris Federation, which runs 19 Academies in London, has a higher proportion of Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ secondary schools than any other education body in the country. Westminster School is one of the country’s leading independent schools and enjoys an unrivalled record of academic results and admission to Oxford, Cambridge, other Russell Group universities, the Ivy League in the US and other top universities worldwide.
The new Harris Westminster Sixth Form Academy will offer 250 places to young people in London who have been identified from among the most able within their former schools.
Entrance will be by academic test and interview, and places will be free of charge for all pupils whatever their background. The admissions policy will prioritise those pupils receiving free school meals or who are in care, and take into account prior education in the final selection decision.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said:
“This Sixth Form is a unique collaboration between two leading lights of UK education, the Harris Federation and Westminster School. By combining their skills and experience, they will be able to create a world-class Sixth Form for teenagers from all over London.”
Lord Adonis, Minister of Schools from 2005 – 2008, said:
“This is an immensely exciting and important venture – the first partnership to create a Sixth Form college between one of England’s leading private schools and one of its leading academy groups.
“I have long been urging top private schools to sponsor academies as a way of breaking down the Berlin Wall between private and state education, and the Harris Westminster Sixth Form is a breakthrough. With Westminster School and the Harris Federation as joint sponsors, this Sixth Form is likely to be hugely popular and a brilliant success.”
Sir Dan Moynihan, Chief Executive of the Harris Federation, said:
“Preparing the most able children in London state schools for the opportunity to study at the world’s most prestigious universities is something that everyone understands is vital and long overdue.
“In the same way that we have very specific ways of improving the performance of the least able, so we need to have in place a similar dedication to help those who are the most able.
“By working with Westminster School, the Harris Federation is able to bring together our joint experience to create an offer tailored to the top echelons of state school pupils in London.”
Dr Stephen Spurr, Head Master of Westminster, said:
“The Governing Body of Westminster School is delighted to be working with the Harris Federation on this new venture which will provide a focused academic environment.
“This Sixth Form will actively seek out pupils of high calibre from across London, who would benefit from the opportunity to spend two years with others of a similar ability, potential and ambition to learn.
“High quality teaching and learning will enable pupils to develop their academic focus, to apply for places on the best university courses, and to flourish as undergraduates.”
The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster and Chairman of Governors of Westminster School, said:
“I am excited about this initiative to enable gifted young people from across London to fulfil their academic potential. We have a great deal of respect for the success of the Harris Federation with its existing academies in London and are very much looking forward to working with them.”
Lord Harris of Peckham, sponsor and Chairman of the Harris Federation, said:
"I established the Harris Federation because I wanted London children of all backgrounds and abilities to be able to access great schools. This new Sixth Form will enable youngsters with exceptional academic potential to thrive. We have set our sights high and are delighted to be working so closely with Westminster School."
In January 2013, the Harris Federation and Westminster School submitted a bid to the Department for Education to open the Sixth Form. A decision is expected in May.