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The Central Foundation Girls' School

Central Foundation Girls' School (CFGS) (www.central.towerhamlets.sch.uk) is a large, inclusive voluntary aided secondary school located in Bow, East London, catering for girls in the age range 11-18 years. Currently there are approximately 1500 students on roll, 76% of whom are eligible for free school meals. 97% of the pupils come from minority ethnic groups, principally from the Bangladeshi community. The school's Achievements, Current Challenges and Future Thinking can be found in the Head teacher's Annual Report to the Trustees in the Members Section of this website. It is one of the top 100 non-selective state funded schools in England based on the Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 value added measure.

The Company's association with CFGS was formalised in 1998 when Past Master Peter Seaton became a Governor of the School and Chairman of its Finance Committee. Prior to that, at the Company's behest, he had become a member of LOGVEC (Livery October Group Vocational Education Committee), an initiative set up by Sir Francis McWilliam when he was Lord Mayor in 1992/3. The purpose of LOGVEC was to make Livery Companies relevant to the vocational and educational needs of young people. Those Livery Companies who were not directly supporting schools were encouraged to find members from amongst their Livery who had the time and ability to serve as Governors of schools in the maintained sector, particularly within the deprived areas of Inner London such as Tower Hamlets. Through this initiative, and working with the City Education Officer, Peter Seaton had become a Trustee of the Central Foundation Schools of London (CFSL) and after a short stint as a Boys' School Governor, it was recognised that his skills as a Chartered Accountant could be used to better effect as a Governor at CFGS.

Past Master Seaton gave an enormous amount of his time during his ten years or more as a Governor, particularly over the period from 2001 - 2004 when as Chairman of Governors he presided over two very important initiatives. Firstly, he oversaw the school's move from Voluntary Controlled to Voluntary Aided status and secondly he was a major force in the negotiation and execution of the School's participation in the London Borough of Tower Hamlet's (LBTH) Joint Schools PFI Project. There were a number of Trustees and Governors who were either sceptical or opposed to the PFI project, but despite its possible financial downsides and the loss of day to day control over running the school site and buildings, Peter and the then Head teacher, Miss Hull, realised that this was the only way at that time that the School could secure major new facilities, including in particular a new Sports Hall, all weather pitch, Dining Facilities and Kitchen and other major refurbishments. Past Master Seaton stood down as a Governor in 2008 but remains a Trustee of CFSL.

The Company's current link with the School is maintained by Past Master Clive Arding who became a Governor of CFGS in July 2004 having been co-opted as a Trustee of CFSL in February of that year. He has served as Vice Chairman since (2009) and also sits on the Resources Committee and Strategic Planning Group. During his time as a Governor he has been significantly involved in developing and executing a strategy, initially conceived in Peter Seaton's time, which was for the School to be located on a "single site" rather than being split a mile or so apart between the Harley Grove and College Terrace Campus. Using his skills as a Chartered Surveyor and with the benefit of financial resources provided by the Trustees of CFSL, in 2007 Clive was able to secure a site on the opposite side of Harley Grove fronting Bow Road thus in practical terms adjacent to the main Harley Grove Campus.

Extensive negotiations were then undertaken with LBTH regarding the Borough and School's involvement in the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. As result, having agreed an additional cash injection from the Trustees of some £7.4m, a £21m phased redevelopment and refurbishment scheme of the Bow Road/Harley Grove campus was undertaken. This provides the School with a new Sixth Form Centre, brand new Science laboratories, a state of the art Drama Hall, brand new Kitchen and Dining Facilities to accommodate all the pupils with much of the remaining parts of the school estate being refurbished and brought up to date. The new building was formally opened by Lord Leslie Griffiths, Chairman of CFSL and Ms Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, in November 2014.

Past Master Clive Arding has also recently overseen the sale of the College Terrace Campus on behalf of the Trustees of CFSL, having first obtained a valuable residential planning consent, allowing the Trustees to recoup a significant part of their investment in the School estate. The interest on this sum will in turn be available to support its beneficiaries.

March 2015
Clive Arding, Past Master
The Worshipful Company of Bowyers

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