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City Gateway to become First Alternative Provision Free School in London

City Gateway is to become the first alternative education provider in London to be given Free School Status, as reported in the Evening Standard and on BBC Radio London.

The Department for Education has recently awarded City Gateway with Free School Status in recognition of the outstanding education it offers to young people in Tower Hamlets and East London. Free School Status will apply to City Gateway’s Youth Training Services, which have previously been recognised as an example of national best practice by Ofsted.

Becoming a ‘Free School’ is not going to transform City Gateway into a ‘school’ in the traditional sense, there will be no assemblies nor uniforms. We are committed to providing vocational courses, information and support to young people and to vulnerable women. Our focus remains on 'Bringing hope to Tower Hamlets' and East London more widely and our services will remain unchanged.

Free School status will however allow us to expand our provision of courses to make an earlier impact in the lives of more 14 and 15 year olds - who are failing in mainstream education - by providing training programmes for them. We have been getting to know many of these young people through our Youth Centre in Limehouse and it has become apparent that we could make an even bigger difference in these young peoples’ lives by providing courses for them that train them and better prepare them for the transition stages of life from education into employment.

In light of the findings of the  End Child Poverty Report, released on earlier in January, which suggested that 52% of Tower Hamlets’ children are living in poverty; our work with this age group becomes even more important. By extending our work to younger people we are able to tackle some of the difficulties that young people face in this borough earlier on; hopefully circumventing some of the issues young people encounter later in life, including them become NEET. The provision of courses for young people has been something local schools have been asking us to join them in addressing for some time and it is with great pleasure that we are able to say ‘yes’.

City Gateway CEO, Eddie Stride, says, ‘We are delighted the Government has given us the go-ahead to use the free school process to support some of the poorest and most excluded young people in London. This will be a very different kind of free school and we are excited about the impact we expect it to have on local achievement levels.’

Want to be a part of seeing Tower Hamlets transformed? We are still looking for partners in the community and beyond, to take on young people as apprentices. Find out more here.

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