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Tower Hamlets School welcomes the First Lady

11A Tower Hamlets school was proud to welcome the First Lady of the United States and her two daughters today.
Staff and pupils from Mulberry School for Girls welcomed Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama as part of the ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative to discuss how the UK and the US are working together to improve opportunities for girls worldwide to complete their education.
Tower Hamlets’ schools have seen a huge improvement in performance in recent years. They are now internationally recognised and achieving some of the best results in the country* and all of our secondary schools have been rebuilt or refurbished under the council’s £320million Building Schools for the Future Programme scheme.
Let Girls Learn was launched because when a girl receives a quality education she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family and her community. The initiative will support community-led solutions to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from going to school and staying in school.
She will be unveiling a $200m scheme, jointly funded by America and the UK, to give girls in developing countries greater access to education.
On her visit to Mulberry, Mrs Obama paid tribute to the pupils. She said: “I am here because of you, girls like you who inspire me. I am so proud of your passion and diligence. You are great, working so hard to complete your education. In so many ways your story is also my story.
Mrs Obama spoke of her own childhood growing up in a working class family, in an area of Chicago similar to Tower Hamlets. Her father was a pump operator and mother a homemaker.
She and her brother lived in cramp accommodation and struggled to complete their homework in the hustle and bustle of a busy family household frequented by extended family.
She added: “There wasn’t much privacy and it was hard to concentrate on homework and I use to wake up at 4am to finish my homework, as that was when the house was quiet.”
Mrs Obama continued: “I know you may feel lost in the shuffle at home or of being in a city like London and wondering whether it’s worth it……..With an education from this amazing (Mulberry) school you can fulfil every one of your last dreams.”
New Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “It’s fantastic that the First Lady chose to visit one of our borough’s excellent schools today. Following a major transformation programme, our schools are now internationally recognised and delivering some of the best results in the country.
“I am sure the First Lady welcomed the chance to meet some of the inspirational young people our borough is rightly proud of and I know they will have found her visit an incentive for further success, in school and in life.”
Dr Vanessa Ogden, Head Teacher of Mulberry School for Girls, commented: “We are delighted to be welcoming Michelle Obama to Mulberry School for Girls. The First Lady is one of the greatest, most inspiring women of our time and her visit is an honour for us. Her use of her platform as First Lady to drive change for girls and to break down barriers in access to education is critical for a civilised world.”
Notes to editors
*In 2014, 59.7% of pupils in Tower Hamlets achieved 5 or more GCSEs A*-C (including English and Maths), higher than the national average for state funded schools of 56.6%. Tower Hamlets has remained above the national average for this measure since 2011. (Mulberry School for Girls has been a consistently high performing school over the same period, and 68% of pupils achieved this level of attainment in 2014).
The Average Points Score per A-Level student (full time equivalent) was 687.2 in 2014, an improvement from 2013, but below the national average for state funded schools/colleges of 772.8.  (Mulberry School for Girls achieved an Average Point Score of 710.8 in 2014).