Highgate School announces pioneering free school in Totenham

The prestigious Highgate School is set to make history by taking up a pioneering role partnering a new free school in Tottenham, which was devastated by riots this summer.

The prestigious Highgate School is set to make history by taking up a pioneering role partnering a new free school in Tottenham, which was devastated by riots this summer.

In a groundbreaking extension of its outreach work, the 16th Century independent school in North Road, Highgate, will help steer education policy at the new primary, which will take pupils from one of the UK’s poorest neighbourhoods.

Roger Wilne, Director of Highgate School’s charitable trust said: “Being a significant and transformative educational establishment in this part of London is our raison d’�tre.

“This is not something that has been stapled on. This is something we are absolutely committed to and so we are putting some thought and care into how we can make it successful for pupils.

“This school is a very powerful teaching project. There is a longevity and breadth to it that is inevitable different to working on individual projects.”

Free schools are state funded but free from local authority control and have greater autonomy over their finances and curriculum.

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The school, which was given the green light by the Department for Education last Tuesday, will be run by the charity E-Act and receive strategic advice from Highgate School.

It will open next September in Tottenham, which was the centre of riots and looting which swept the country following the shooting by police of Mark Duggan. The public outcry that followed sparked a fierce debate over the education and work opportunities of young people in the area.

The school will open with two reception classes, and eventually teach pupils up to the age of ten and 11.

It will follow Haringey Council’s admissions code and the national curriculum, and will place an emphasis on extra curricular activities and stay open from 8am until 6pm to provide “wrap around care”.

“This will give opportunities to parents and carers because it will give them more hours in the day for employment,” said Mr Wilne.

“But that is not just about babysitting, there will be clubs to allow the children to prosper. That is an area we have a lot of experience with.”

Established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1565 quite literally as a free school for boys in Highgate Village, Highgate School has a long history of outreach and has worked with E-Act for several years offering teaching support to Crest Academy, in Brent.

The government has encouraged independent schools to extend their partnerships with the state sector by sponsoring free schools and academies, but some state school teachers have been openly hostile to the idea.

Mr Wilne said Haringey Council has been supportive, however, and that he hopes the new primary will play a role in the “Haringey family of schools”.

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