New school given go ahead to cater for disengaged NEET teenagers in Hackney

East London charity City Gateway’s application for the alternative provision school in Hackney was one of 102 across the country approved by the Secretary of State for Education last week.

The government has given the go-ahead for a new school to open in Hackney next year to get disengaged teenagers back on the right track.

The school will cater for 14-19 year olds who have previously disengaged or not achieved in mainstream education, offering a vocational curriculum replicating the model of City Gateway’s existing school in the neighbouring borough of Tower Hamlets.

The Tower Hamlets school which opened last September was the first alternative provision free school in the capital and has received national recognition for supporting some of the 132,000 young Londoners who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET) into pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeships through its successful work-focused training and programmes.

Spokesman for City Gateway James Copeland said it’s not a school in the traditional sense of the word.

“It’s about re engaging young people in education, we have a holistic and pastoral model making them see the value of education, helping them break down any barriers that might exist, and a rounded programme of getting corporate volunteers engaged with young people.

“We hand tailor education provision for them and have a strong safeguarding team to address what might have contributed to why they dropped out or were at risk in the first place, things like gang involvement and building positive self esteem and making positive choice for themselves.

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“Obviously mainstream education hasn’t worked for them and they might have dropped out for whatever reason so to get them into a positive future the Department of Education has recognised our model as important.”

City Gateway’s work focuses on economically disadvantaged and excluded young people and tackles youth unemployment through apprenticeships and links to social enterprises.

The proposed Hackney school will work alongside existing schools and pupil referral units to provide the best educational route possible for NEET young people.

City Gateway CEO Eddie Stride said: ‘We are excited about the possibility of being able to engage even more young people who are disillusioned about their future prospects and disengaged from mainstream provision, and help them to realise and fulfil their full potential.

He added: “We hope to see young people achieve practical qualifications, gain useful skills and have amazing employment opportunities, so that they can successfully progress into a sustainable job along with a high quality, useful and relevant education experience.”

The charity which has also been given the go-ahead to open a similar school in Newham next year, will work with the council to find a suitable site.