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Company Links with 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 1520 students on role, 60% of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and 50% do not have English as their first language. The vast majority of the pupils come from minority ethnic groups, principally from the Bangladeshi community, and the School remains at the centre of one of the nations most deprived boroughs.

Despite the above the School continues to achieve outstanding results at both GCSE and A level. In the Academic year 2018/2019, the Progress 8 score at GCSE placed the School in the top 5% of schools in the country, and the 6th Form within the top 10% of all 6th Form providers. 85% of the students went on to University (31% Russell Group) and the remainder went into Apprenticeships or other forms of further education.

The Company's association with the School sprung from an initiative set up by Sir Francis McWilliam when he was Lord Mayor in 1992/3 called LOGVEG (Livery October Group Voluntary Education Committee). Its purpose 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. Past Master Peter Seaton felt this initiative to be particularly appropriate for our Company, and working with the City Education Officer, he became a Trustee of the Central Foundation Schools of London (CFSL) and shortly thereafter 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 negotiating and executing the School's participation in the London Borough of Tower Hamlet's (LBTH) Joint Schools PFI Project. This enabled the School to 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 continues to support its events when he can.

The Company's current links with the School are maintained by Past Master Clive Arding, who became a Governor of CFGS in July 2004, and more recently by Court Member Lionel Green. Clive has served as Vice Chairman since 2009 and also chairs the Resources Committee. Lionel is able to bring his skills and experience to bear as he is currently a Bursar at a well-known independent School and sits on the Personnel Committee.

During his time as a Governor Clive 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 he 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 Tower Hamlets regarding the Borough and School's involvement in the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. As result a £21m phased redevelopment and refurbishment scheme of the Bow Road/Harley Grove campus was undertaken. This now 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 Charity Committee of the Company also makes a regular donation to the School for prizes, which are presented by our Master, and to support the School's hardship fund. A special additional donation to this fund has recently been agreed relating to hardship arising specifically from COVID-19.

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