HOW does a diocese with popular, oversubscribed church schools
meet the demand for places? In 2003, Tom Peryer, then the head of
the London Diocesan Board for Schools, came up with an answer. Why
not clone them, he suggested. One of the schools he had in mind was
Twyford Church of England High - now an academy - in west London,
whose head teacher, Alice Hudson, hated turning away children who
wanted what her school offered.
A decade on, taking the opportunity provided by the free-schools
initiative, Twyford, which now has its own academy trust, sought
approval for a sister school with open admissions in another part
of the borough in need of extra places, but with the same spiritual
and community ethos. The Government approved, and funded a
£19-million building on a site provided by the equally
enthusiastic, Labour-led Ealing Council.
Before William Perkin High opened last September, 900 children
had applied for 180 first-year places, which were all allocated
solely on distance from the school. Its head teacher, Keir Smith,
formerly the deputy head at Twyford, says: "We were up front about
our C of E ethos: we said our twice-weekly assemblies included
Christian worship, and that daily tutor-group sessions would
include teaching about behaviour and ethics, based on Bible
The school's official 10.10 ethos, and its etiquette, are based
on verse 10, the tenth chapter of the Fourth Gospel ("The thief
comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have
life, and have it abundantly").
Would-be students and their parents also have to accept a long
school day, which starts at 8 a.m. and finishes at 3.45 p.m.,
although children can stay on at study clubs and other activities
until 5.30 p.m.
"We asked them 'Are you up for it?', and it seems they were," Mr
Smith says. In fact, the children are lining up for the breakfast
club before 7.30 a.m.
The curriculum is as innovative as the architecture. Academic
subjects are taught in the mornings, including daily maths,
English, and language lessons. The afternoon is reserved for the
"creative curriculum", which includes IT, sports, art, and music.
Every student learns an instrument.
The school's name commemorates William Perkin, a 19th-century
chemist who invented a purple dye - reflected in the colour of the
uniform - and manufactured it locally. He was also a Christian and
With another 900 applications for this September's 180-place
intake, William Perkin is now as oversubscribed as Twyford. Does
this mean more "Twyford" models?