New elite colleges for underprivileged Londoners announced by top headteacher

·3-min read
Headteacher Mouhssin Ismail,  student Ayesha Karim and City of London Academy CEO Mark Emmerson (Newham Colliegate)
Headteacher Mouhssin Ismail, student Ayesha Karim and City of London Academy CEO Mark Emmerson (Newham Colliegate)

A headteacher who has helped students in the most deprived areas of the capital win places at top universities is set to open two new colleges for working class Londoners.

Newham Colliegate Sixth Form (NCS) headteacher Mouhssin Ismail and the City of London Corporation plan to open facilities in Hackney and Islington.

The centres will seek to replicate the success of Mr Ismail’s east London college, which has helped dozens of students win places at Oxbridge as well as scholarships at MIT, Harvard and Princeton.

NCS serves one of the areas with the highest rates of child poverty in the country, but 95 per cent of students leave for the Russell Group universities.

Mr Ismail, a former city lawyer, said: “If we are serious about social mobility, we need to do things differently and provide talented young people with opportunities they simply don’t get in their normal state school.

“Beacons of excellence within the state sector such as the NCS are levelling the playing field but only for students in Newham. What about the rest of the country?

“We have students applying to us from all over London and into Essex. There is a huge appetite amongst highly aspirational working-class families for their children to have the same access to the top universities, which their peers from independent schools enjoy.”

Ayesha Karim, 18, has become the latest NCS student to secure an offer from a Ivy League School and will take up a place at Princeton to study engineering next September.

She said: “This is a completely life changing opportunity. I have the chance to go to Oxford or Cambridge but this is on another level entirely.

“I am so excited to see where this amazing opportunity will take me. Going to Princeton is entirely because I chose the NCS over other sixth forms.

“It is not just that they put these kinds of opportunities in front of you and make you believe you can achieve them.

“They also put you in a position where you actually have a chance of being accepted. For example, I had an all-expenses paid work experience placement at CERN in Switzerland, that went a long way to getting into Princeton.

“There is so much talent in these communities that could be going to waste but not anymore. There should be an NCS in every area of the country.”

The new colleges are being backed by City of London Academies Trust (COLAT) and sponsored by the City of London Corporation.

They will open in two existing schools - City of London Academy Shoreditch Park in Hackney and City of London Academy Highgate Hill in Islington.

Mouhssin, who gave up a six-figure salary to lead the NCS in his home borough of Newham, will serve as director of standards for both schools.

City of London Academy CEO Mark Emmerson said: “With the new Sixth Forms following closely the exceptional transformational model created by Mouhssin at NCS this new provision will enable the most ambitious and talented students from Islington and Hackney to access the best universities in the UK and abroad in far greater numbers than have been seen to date.”

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