A school in East London, in one of Britain's most deprived areas, is the most consistently high achieving - despite only doing a four-and-a-half day week. Forest Gate Community School is the only non-selective comprehensive in the country to have made the top 50 schools for GCSE results five years in a row.

Leaders say their success is built on recruiting top teachers who reflect the ethically and socially diverse community they serve. Not including the Covid years when teachers assessed grades, the Newham school has consistently outperformed posh schools - despite serving one of the poorest communities in Britain.

The school scores better exam results than grammar and private schools as well as state schools in exclusive neighbourhoods. Forest Gate Community offers free exam tuition every day in year 11 with children coming into school at 7am and revising past 4.30pm.

Teachers also offer additional weekly classes for students in year 7 to practice their English and maths revision, to give them a head start on their exams. Their progress score has been above plus 1 every year since 2017, which means pupils earn on average roughly one grade higher in their GCSEs than at other schools.

This year, Forest Gate Community was also ranked 27th in the country for GCSE exam results for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is a scholarship program too, which has seen deprived youngsters win around £2m in all-expenses-paid places at top fee-paying schools, including Eton.

Ofsted sign
The school has been rated outstanding three times by Ofsted.

Ishak Ayris, Kaashif Kamaly, and Ilyan Benamor all left East London to follow in the footsteps of Princes Harry and William at the world’s most famous school. Over 40 students have won scholarship places at fee-paying schools all funded by the private schools.

Remarkably the school managed to get all of this done on a four-and-a-half-day week, with staff and students leaving at lunch every Friday. Executive headteacher Thahmina Begum says the secret to success is excellent teachers.

She said: “The key to our success is consistently outstanding teaching. That means recruiting well and providing excellent training so that we have the very best of the best staff.

“It also means recruiting staff and leaders who reflect the communities they serve. Our leadership team is very diverse in terms of ethnicity and background.

“Most of our staff are from working-class backgrounds who can relate to the children they teach. Our teachers have walked the same path as the children, they understand the challenges, they are relatable, and as a consequence the children listen to them.

“This is not rocket science, if children are well prepared for their exams they have a better chance of passing them. If they pass their exams they can take A Levels, go to university, and then get a good job. We are preparing them for the next steps in their journey.”

The school is part of the Community Schools Trust, which runs four other schools in London as well as one in Norfolk. CEO Simon Elliott said: “We have always believed that the secret to an outstanding school is consistently excellent teaching.

“Teaching isn’t just about subject knowledge, though that is crucial, it is also about the capacity to communicate with young people. Anyone who has brought up a teenager will tell you sometimes that is not an easy task. That is why it is crucial to recruit teachers who are relatable.

“They are also the most motivated. They will run through brick walls for our children because they know what is waiting beyond these walls if they fail in their education. To do all this for our children you need incredibly dedicated staff. That’s why we took the decision to move to a four and half day week. We want to reward our staff for their incredible commitment.”