A primary school in Shepherd’s Bush has been named the best in the country. Ark Conway is a free school that opened in 2011.
The Times reports this morning:
“A tiny free school in a poor part of London has achieved the best results in the country, three years after it opened.
Every child achieved the expected standard or higher in mathematics at Ark Conway primary academy, the highest in England, and 93 per cent did so in English, which was equalled by one other school.
Its results were better than any others among the 15,000 primary schools in England and those prep schools that submit their results to the Department for Education. Among the schools it beat was one of the most highly selective independent prep schools, James Allen’s Girls’ School, which had the third highest results.
Damian McBeath, the founding head teacher, said its success was due to strong teaching. Each class has both a teacher and co-teacher, who is a graduate on a teacher training programme, which the school uses instead of classroom assistants. It also uses a maths curriculum adapted from Singapore, which ensures that children master each concept before moving to the next and makes heavy use of pictures and counting blocks that help children to visualise sums or calculations.
The school is housed in a disused library in Acton, near a busy trunk road a stone’s throw from Wormwood Scrubs prison. Within three years it has become so popular that it had 140 applications for 30 places this term, of which 77 families listed it as their first choice.”
Labour fought like tigers to prevent this school being opened. They did so on planning grounds, but this was spurious. The school has enhanced the physical environment. The old Wormholt library was carefully restored and renovated. The school has paid tribute to the building’s heritage by incorporating the original marble floor design in the new school’s logo, as well as creating plans to locate the school library in the same area as the original library. Expanding the site will enhances the setting for the listed building which was sadly diminished by the A40. Labour’s real opposition was ideological – claiming new free schools to be “unwanted.”
The local Labour MP Andrew Slaughter tried to thwart its building works. Labour councillors on the Planning Applications Committee tried to prevent it from opening – including the Wormholt and White City Ward councillors. Cllr Colin Aherne especially asked that his opposition to the school should be named.