London school up for $50,000 prize for work boosting students’ mental health

The London Academy of Excellence, dubbed “the Eton of the East End”, has made it to the final three of the World’s Best School competition. The sixth form in Stratford was nominated in the “supporting healthy lives” category after developing its own well-being strategy.

If it is named as the winner in a ceremony held next month, the school will use the money to train other schools in the well-being strategy it has developed — focusing on schools operating in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation.

LAE Stratford is one of the most successful sixth forms in the country, despite serving a deprived area in east London. A third of their students are eligible for free school meals.

Principal Alex Crossman said: “We are a school that supports and fosters ambition and we have to be quite careful in the way we go about doing that.

Principal Alex Crossman

/ LAE

“Our students, despite their academic achievements, are as likely as anyone else in east London to have challenges at home. They are not here because of the absence of challenges in their lives. They are here because they find ways to cope with those challenges. What is really key for us is that the environment is supportive.”

The school was nominated after developing its well-being strategy, which focuses on improving its students’ healthy habits, behavior, knowledge and skills. It worked with a team of university psychology students who trained Year 12 students in strategies to improve well-being. It also introduced a “well-being ambassador” program for students to support their peers. To boost attendance students were coached in resilience and instilled with a mindset that being in school is essential to their success.

LAE Stratford is up against Curie Metropolitan High School in the USA and Larrakeyah Primary School in Australia for the prize. The global school awards were launched this year by T4 education, which is building an online community in a bid to celebrate schools in the wake of the pandemic. A total of $250,000 will be given out to winners in five categories.

The aim is to celebrate schools everywhere for the role they play in developing the next generation of learners.

Members of the public can vote for the winners here.

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