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Greater Expectations: Enabling Achievement for Disadvantaged Students

Greater Expectations: Enabling Achievement for Disadvantaged Students

May 2024 | 160 pages | Corwin UK

How can greater expectations lead to greater outcomes for schools and the students they teach?

The London Academy of Excellence (LAE), Newham, is one of the leading sixth-form schools in the UK. The LAE’s mission is to combat disadvantage by providing ambitious young people from lower-income homes with an education on a par with the best available in the independent sector.

In its first decade, the LAE sent over 1,300 students to Russell Group universities, over 200 to medical schools and more than 150 to Oxford or Cambridge. Most of those students were the first in their family to attend a university.

The authors sift through the school's practices to reveal universal concepts and ideas that school leaders, in any context, can consider for their own schools. These ideas include:

  • Understanding the curriculum as a source of social mobility
  • Planning for high quality destinations from first contact with prospective students 
  • Exploring challenge strategies to achieve academic excellence across subjects
The book culminates in a list of strategies that can drive greater expectations in any school. 

Alex Crossman is Headteacher and Ian Warwick is Chair of the Education Committee at the London Academy of Excellence.

Ch1: Introduction
Ch2: Educational Disadvantage
Ch3: Developing Curriculum
Ch4: Ten Strategies to Achieve Excellence
Ch5: Developing Teaching
Ch6: Pastoral Care
Ch7: Partnerships
Ch8: Destinations
Ch9: Fifteen Strategies to Drive Greater Expectation

Despite numerous government initiatives the facts remain depressing: it will take 560 years to close the ‘attainment gap’ at GCSE and university, and there is a real prospect that successive generations of talented young people will see their potential wasted by systems that don’t work for them.  

This book, by Ian Warwick, a leading international figure behind the London Challenge and an expert in raising achievement across sectors, and Alex Crossman, the Headteacher of the London Academy of Excellence, is an antidote to this bleak narrative. Its strength is in its focus: it explores how the London Academy of Excellence has, over ten years, transformed the lives of so many of its students, many from highly disadvantaged backgrounds, supporting them in successfully applying to the country’s leading universities.  Never has the slogan ‘think locally, act globally’ been so relevant than here: anyone involved in education today, and committed to improving outcomes for all children, should read ‘Greater Expectations’, learn from the lessons outlined here, and apply them to a national context.  

We can’t afford to write off another generation of children, and right here we have the expertise to know how to ensure that doesn’t happen again. 


David James
Deputy headteacher and co-author of ‘Schools of Thought: Lessons to learn from schools doing things differently’

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