State school in one of London’s poorest boroughs secures 41 offers to study at Oxford and Cambridge universities

A state school in London is celebrating after 41 of its students secured offers to study at either Oxford or Cambridge this year.

The success of Brampton Manor in Newham, one of the poorest boroughs in London, now rivals some of the top private schools across the country.

Almost all of the students who received offers are from ethnic minority backgrounds, while two in three would be the first in their family to attend university and half have received free school meals.

Brampton Manor opened its sixth form in 2012 with the aim of transforming the progression rates to Oxford, Cambridge and other elite universities for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 2014, just one student received an offer for Oxbridge. Last year, 25 students received offers from Oxford and Cambridge but this year’s 41 offers sets a new record for the state school.

Lydia Khechine, who arrived in the UK alone when she was 12 after fleeing Algeria, is one of the students to receive an Oxbridge offer.

The 18-year-old was unable to speak English when she first came to the country – now she has an offer to study History and Politics at Oxford University.

She told the BBC: “A lot of people filter themselves out of the Oxbridge process because they don’t think they belong.

“But the truth is people from unconventional backgrounds like mine do have the potential and it’s about reassuring ourselves that we have a voice.”

Sam Dobin, the director of sixth form at Brampton Manor, said: “Every student here goes to university. We have a very traditional approach with no gimmicks or shortcuts.”

The school buys every student their own textbooks to encourage independent study and there is an in-house team of five Oxbridge graduates solely dedicated to university access, he says.

Mr Dobin added: “But the key is to keep telling your students that they’re capable, that they’re good enough. We need to shake off the idea that Oxford and Cambridge are just for an ‘elite’ couple of students and encourage everyone to apply.”

The oversubscribed sixth form accepts 300 students a year following an interview process. Some students travel as much as two hours each way to attend the selective sixth form.

It comes after a report last month revealed that eight schools and colleges, most of which are fee-paying independent schools, had more students accepted to Oxbridge in the last three years than three quarters of all other schools.

Another state sixth form in London this week that it has received 37 Oxbridge offers this year.

Of those with offers at Harris Westminster Sixth Form in London, 14 children are from an ethnic minority, 13 children are on the pupil premium – a fund for children from more disadvantaged backgrounds – and two have been in care.