New Hackney and Islington sixth forms set to be more rigorous than Eton

New Hackney and Islington sixth forms have tougher entry requirements than Eton College

New Hackney and Islington sixth forms have tougher entry requirements than Eton College. Pictured: Shoreditch Park headteacher Holly Arles, Farouk Eraimoh, Phoebe Gaynor, Alexandra Jenkins, Nidhi Desai, Tomiwa Onibanjo, Dominic Williams and Highgate Hill headteacher, Prince Gennuh - Credit: Ben Mole

Two new planned sixth forms in Hackney and Islington will soon have tougher entry requirements than one of the UK's most elite boarding school's, Eton College. 

City of London Academy (COLA) Shoreditch Park in Hackney and COLA Highgate Hill in Islington are set to open their exclusive sixth form centres later this year in September. 

Students hoping to study at them will have to score a grade 7, the equivalent of an A, in eight subjects in their GCSEs to gain a place. 

At Eton College, according to the school's admission policy, prospective students need to score grades 7 in six of their subjects, meaning the entry requirements at the new local sixth forms will be more rigorous.

Shoreditch Park headteacher Holly Arles said: “Like many of the students we hope to inspire, I am from a working-class background and went on to attend a top university.

“I therefore share this highly aspirational vision for our sixth form, where background is no barrier to success. With the right attitude and education, our students can fulfil their potential."

The new centres are being run in partnership with Newham Collegiate Sixth Form (NCS), Newham, where 95 percent of pupils go on to attend Russell Group Universities.

Their Ivy League programme has also seen youngsters from one of the poorest areas in the country win places at the top US universities including Harvard, Princeton and MIT.

Students at the new sixth forms will receive specialist support including tutoring for the SATs and an aptitude test required by the American educational system.

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They will also be offered interview prep from an Ivy League specialist, work experience at international firms and advice on studying overseas.

There will be bespoke Oxbridge workshops, expert-run application sessions and interview preparation, as well as specific medicine and law programmes.

Like NCS, students will be expected to dress in business attire and given elocution, etiquette and cultural capital lessons so they can compete with privately educated peers at university and later in job interviews.

Each school has put forward three students who hope to benefit from the elite programme.

Budding doctor Phoebe Gaynor, 15, from Hackney, is among them.

She said: “The Ivy League part of it feels a bit like a dream. It’s what you see in films or on a television series on Netflix. It seems a long way from Hackney.

“Students at NCS did work experience at top research labs in Zürich and other places across Europe. It’s these kinds of opportunities you don’t get at other sixth forms in Hackney, or indeed anywhere, really.”

Highgate Hill's Alexandra Jenkins, 15, from Archway, said: “If you want to change the world and change how people think about certain issues, you need to have the skills to make that happen.

“I want to be a clinical psychologist and change the way people think about mental health and young people. I want to change the world for the better."

Highgate Hill headteacher, Prince Gennuh, said the school's own data shows "talented and bright" students are leaving Islington to access top sixth form provisions in neighbouring areas. 

"We want to keep that talent here in Islington," the headteacher said. 

"Even those who are leaving are not accessing the very top universities. We are asking, why is it that students from Newham can but not students from Islington?"

The project is being overseen by Mouhssin Ismail, who is the headteacher at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form.

So far, NCS have helped six students win places at top Ivy League universities while 95 percent of NCS students go on to attend Russell Group universities.

Mr Ismail said: “The chance to transplant the huge success we have had at NCS to other areas, such as Hackney and Islington, which share some of the social issues that Newham has, is a wonderful opportunity.

“We want to continue to raise the bar of what can be achieved by young people, whatever their background.”