New Sixth Form to open for academically able teenagers in London

The Department for Education has today approved a joint application from the Harris Federation and Westminster School to open a new academically selective Sixth Form in September 2014.

The new Harris Westminster Sixth Form, which is being opened as part of the Free Schools programme, will offer 250 places in each year group to young people in London. It will deliver high-quality teaching and learning that enables students to develop their academic focus, apply successfully for places on the best university courses in the UK and internationally and flourish as undergraduates.

The Sixth Form will combine the experience of the Harris Federation, which runs 19 highly successful Academies in London, and Westminster School which enjoys an unrivalled record of academic results and admission to Oxford, Cambridge, other Russell Group universities, the Ivy League in the US and other top universities worldwide.

Based in central London, the Sixth Form will admit students from across the capital. Entrance will be by academic test and interview, and places will be free of charge for all students.

The admissions policy will give due priority to students receiving free school meals and take into account their prior education in the final selection decision. 

The curriculum will be assessed by A-levels, International A Levels and Cambridge Pre-U examinations that match the requirements for entry to the best university courses worldwide. There will be regular lectures and events with celebrated individuals from academia, the arts, politics, journalism and business.


Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

“This Sixth Form is a unique collaboration between two leading lights of UK education, the Harris Federation and Westminster School. By combining their skills and experience, they will be able to create a world-class Sixth Form for teenagers from all over London.”


Lord Adonis, Minister of Schools from 2005 – 2008, said:

“This is an immensely exciting and important venture – the first partnership to create a Sixth Form college between one of England’s leading private schools and one of its leading academy groups. 

“I have long been urging top private schools to sponsor academies as a way of breaking down the Berlin Wall between private and state education, and the Harris Westminster Sixth Form is a breakthrough. With Westminster School and the Harris Federation as joint sponsors, this Sixth Form is likely to be hugely popular and a brilliant success.”


Sir Dan Moynihan, Chief Executive of the Harris Federation said:

“We are thrilled and delighted that the new Sixth Form has been approved to open.

“Preparing the most able children in London state schools for the opportunity to study at the world’s most prestigious universities is something that everyone understands is vital and long overdue. 

“In the same way that we have very specific ways of improving the performance of the least able, so we need to have in place a similar dedication to help those who are the most able. 

“By working with Westminster School, the Harris Federation is able to bring together our joint experience to create an offer tailored to the top echelons of state school students in London.”


Dr Stephen Spurr, Principal of Westminster, said:

“The Governing Body of Westminster School is delighted to be working with the Harris Federation on this new venture which will provide a focused academic environment. 

“This Sixth Form will actively seek out students of high calibre from across London, who would benefit from the opportunity to spend two years with others of a similar ability, potential and ambition to learn. 

“High quality teaching and learning will enable students to develop their academic focus, to apply for places on the best university courses, and to flourish as undergraduates.”


The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster and Chairman of Governors of Westminster School, said:

“I am excited about this initiative to enable gifted and motivated young people from across London to fulfil their academic potential.  We have a great deal of respect for the success of the Harris Federation with its existing academies in London and are very much looking forward to working with them.”  


Lord Harris of Peckham, sponsor and Chairman of the Harris Federation, said:

"I established the Harris Federation because I wanted London children of all backgrounds and abilities to be able to access great schools. This new Sixth Form will enable youngsters with exceptional academic potential to thrive.  We have set our sights high and are delighted to be working so closely with Westminster School."