Two north London sixth forms that are more selective than Eton


The north London inner-city sixth forms that are more selective than Eton: Students will require eight A-grade GCSEs to get into to new schools in Hackney and Islington

  • City of London Academies in Shoreditch and Hackney are to open sixth-forms 
  • But prospective students must score equivalent of eight GSCE A grades for entry
  • This makes the schools’ selection more rigorous than Eton College’s six A grades
  • It is hoped the exclusive centres will prevent drain of brightest students to other boroughs


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Two new inner London sixth forms are setting their entry bar higher than some of the UK’s most elite private schools to stop a drain of talented students.

City of London Academy Shoreditch Park in Hackney and City of London Academy Highgate Hill in Islington will open their exclusive sixth form centres later this year.

But students hoping to attend must score the equivalent of eight A grades in their GSCE subjects to gain a place.

This makes the schools’ entry requirements more rigorous than Eton College, where prospective students only require six GCSEs with top marks.

Eton, one of the world’s best-known schools, has been attended by 20 UK prime ministers, including Boris Johnson and famous academics such as John Maynard Keynes and George Orwell.

Two new inner London sixth forms are setting their entry bar higher than some of the UK's most elite private schools to stop a drain of talented students. Pictured: Students and teachers from Shoreditch Park in Hackney and Highgate Hill in Islington

Two new inner London sixth forms are setting their entry bar higher than some of the UK's most elite private schools to stop a drain of talented students. Pictured: Students and teachers from Shoreditch Park in Hackney and Highgate Hill in Islington

Two new inner London sixth forms are setting their entry bar higher than some of the UK’s most elite private schools to stop a drain of talented students. Pictured: Students and teachers from Shoreditch Park in Hackney and Highgate Hill in Islington

Students attending the new sixth form schools will receive specialist support including tutoring for the SATs and an aptitude test required by the American educational system. Pictured: CoL Academy Shoreditch Park

Students attending the new sixth form schools will receive specialist support including tutoring for the SATs and an aptitude test required by the American educational system. Pictured: CoL Academy Shoreditch Park

Students attending the new sixth form schools will receive specialist support including tutoring for the SATs and an aptitude test required by the American educational system. Pictured: CoL Academy Shoreditch Park

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

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

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

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

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.

Students hoping to attend the London sixth forms must score the equivalent of eight A grades in their GSCE subjects to gain a place. This makes the schools' entry requirements more rigorous than Eton College (pictured), where prospective students only require six GCSEs with top marks

Students hoping to attend the London sixth forms must score the equivalent of eight A grades in their GSCE subjects to gain a place. This makes the schools' entry requirements more rigorous than Eton College (pictured), where prospective students only require six GCSEs with top marks

Students hoping to attend the London sixth forms must score the equivalent of eight A grades in their GSCE subjects to gain a place. This makes the schools’ entry requirements more rigorous than Eton College (pictured), where prospective students only require six GCSEs with top marks

‘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.’

Like NCS, students will be expected to dress in business attire and will be given elocution, etiquette and cultural capital lessons.

This will help them compete with their privately educated peers in interviews for university and jobs later in life.

Each school has put forward three of their best students hoping to be the first to benefit from the elite programme.

One of them, Phoebe Gaynor, 15, from Hackney, who is hoping to become a doctor said: ‘The Ivy League part of it feels a bit like a dream.

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'

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'

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’

‘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 Zurich 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.’

Another, Alexandra Jenkins, 15, from Archway, who will attend Highgate Hill, 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.

‘It’s a long road but going to an Ivy League school will set me on the path to being one of the top academics in that field.

‘It makes you think, if this is not out of reach, then maybe nothing is.’

The exclusive sixth form centres could help prevent the brightest students from moving away in search of better schools.

Highgate Hill Headteacher, Prince Gennuh, said: ‘Our data shows that very talented and bright students are leaving our borough to access top quality sixth form provisions in neighbouring areas. 

Highgate Hill Headteacher, Prince Gennuh, said: 'Our data shows that very talented and bright students are leaving our borough to access top quality sixth form provisions in neighbouring areas. We want to keep that talent here in Islington'

Highgate Hill Headteacher, Prince Gennuh, said: 'Our data shows that very talented and bright students are leaving our borough to access top quality sixth form provisions in neighbouring areas. We want to keep that talent here in Islington'

Highgate Hill Headteacher, Prince Gennuh, said: ‘Our data shows that very talented and bright students are leaving our borough to access top quality sixth form provisions in neighbouring areas. We want to keep that talent here in Islington’

‘We want to keep that talent here in Islington. 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 Ivy League universities, including Harvard, Princeton and MIT.

Mr Ismail said: ‘At NCS, we were getting applications from all over the country, as far away as Liverpool.

‘Newham will always be special to me because it’s my hometown but my mission is to raise the life chances and opportunities of students everywhere.

‘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.’

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