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Secretary of State for Education visits ‘inspiring’ Tower Hamlets alternative education provision


The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, visited the London East Alternative Provision, (LEAP) on 18 September.

Based in Bethnal Green, LEAP offers an educational programme for young people who for whatever reason, have not managed to succeed in mainstream schools.

In 2019, 85 per cent of pupils at LEAP received a GCSE or equivalent in English and maths.  Ninety one per cent of pupils went on to secure a placement after completing Year 11, compared to 51 per cent nationally, based on the most recent figures.

Over three years, results in maths have risen from three per cent of pupils gaining good grades to over 40 per cent. Exam entry is twice the national average for alternative provision programmes and pupil outcomes in GCSE subjects equals those of mainstream schools.

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education, said: “Visiting London East Alternative Provision and speaking to young people, I was struck by how proud they are to be in school and learning. Dedicated staff and a positive environment can transform children’s lives and it is this kind of inspiring alternative provision that I want to see across the board.

“As education secretary, my ambition for pupils in alternative provision is no different to that for other children and that’s why I’ve been very clear that we need to set our sights much higher for these pupils. I will continue meeting education leaders and visiting schools to see what ‘great’ looks like, so we can mirror it and make sure all children can reach their potential.”

As well as academic attainment, the school focuses on life skills like improving language and helping pupils overcome anxiety. It is equipped with a state of the art recording studio. Students report feeling safe at LEAP and are often changed by their experience.

This can only be achieved through the partnership that has been developed with all the mainstream schools in the borough and the council.

Many LEAP pupils return to mainstream schools and pass exams. Some will make tiny but important progress towards fitting in with their peers, becoming more confident and building their self-esteem so they believe they can succeed in life.

LEAP Headteacher, John Bradshaw, said: “LEAP is proud to have some of the best staff (teaching and support) working in schools today. Their well-developed skills help tackle the bigger personal and social issues that underpin the pupils’ inability to succeed in the mainstream. Life skills are taught not just in lessons. A polite interaction in the queue for toast can be a success story, as important as a maths class that day. It was a pleasure to show off our school to the secretary of state.”

One of the highlights of the new school year has been to offer an ex-pupil a part time job, in the school, to support her university studies in Criminology.