Fortismere School

Fortismere School (simply referred to as Fortismere) is an 11–18 mixed, comprehensive, foundation secondary school and sixth form in Muswell Hill, London, Greater London, England.

Fortismere School
Fortismere logo.jpg
Fortismere - - 240906.jpg
North Wing entrance.

Coordinates51°35′34″N 0°09′03″W / 51.59285°N 0.15095°W / 51.59285; -0.15095Coordinates: 51°35′34″N 0°09′03″W / 51.59285°N 0.15095°W / 51.59285; -0.15095
Other nameFortismere
TypeFoundation school
Established1983 (1983) (Tollington Park in 1879)
Local authorityHaringey London Borough Council
Department for Education URN102156 Tables
  • Jo Davey
  • Zoe Judge
Age range11–18
Enrolment1,767 (2019)[2]
Campus size20 acres (8.1 ha)[3]
Colour(s)Blue and green         
  • Alexandria
  • Colosseum
  • Ephesus
  • Olympia
  • Petra
  • Rhodes

In 2016, it was ranked by The Sunday Times as the 12th best comprehensive school in the country. In its most recent Ofsted inspection, it was rated "Outstanding" and is the highest-performing comprehensive school in the borough.[4]


Private schoolsEdit

Tollington Park College, a private educational establishment for boys, was founded by William Brown in 1879 in Tollington Park, London N4. Rapid population growth around Muswell Hill created the need for a new school. Campbell Brown, the founder's son, established Tollington Boys School in Tetherdown, Muswell Hill in 1901. Brown then opened Tollington High School for Girls in nearby Collingwood Avenue in 1910. In 1919 both schools were purchased by the local education authority. Aside from the senior management, the two schools operated independently.[5]

Grammar schoolsEdit

After World War II, this became a state grammar school and the attached preparatory school became Tetherdown Primary School (this moved from the site in 1958 when it exchanged premises with the girls' grammar school). In 1958 the current building was erected and Tollington High School for Girls and Tollington Grammar School for Boys merged to become Tollington Grammar School (co-ed).[6] In 1955, William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School (named after a local councillor) opened on an adjoining site in Creighton Avenue, taking the senior classes from Coldfall Council School. It offered extended classes from 1961.[7]

Creighton Comprehensive SchoolEdit

With the introduction of comprehensive education in Haringey in 1967, Tollington Grammar School and William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School were merged to form Creighton School. Charles Loades, head of William Grimshaw since 1958, became head, remaining until his retirement in 1974.[8]

In the early 1970s, Creighton School became the centrepiece of a Labour Party educational experiment. Situated in the middle-class, largely white suburb of Muswell Hill it was decided to integrate a large number of Afro-Caribbean and other ethnic minority children into the school from distant parts of the borough in an attempt to maximise education choice and social interaction – a policy based heavily on the United States' then-current system of desegregation busing. In 1975, before this new intake had worked through the school, around one-third of the Sixth Form was either a first-generation immigrant, or had a surname of Cypriot or Asian origin.[8] The head who was charged with overseeing this experiment was Molly Hattersley, a leading socialist.[8]

As a part of the continuing debate about comprehensive schools, Creighton School became the subject of a series of articles in the Sunday Times and a subsequent book by Hunter Davies, The Creighton Report,[8] illustrated by an A-Level Photography student at the school and the Sunday Times photojournalist Frank Herrmann.

Fortismere SchoolEdit

After further reorganisation, Creighton School and another comprehensive, Alexandra Park School, were combined under the new name of Fortismere School. It opened in September 1983 and gained Technology College status in 1997, which lasted until it became a foundation school.[citation needed]

Foundation statusEdit

In the summer of 2006, the school's governors and recently appointed head teacher Aydin Önaç proposed to change the school's status to that of a foundation school. The governors argued that the increased autonomy from the LEA provided by foundation status would be beneficial to the school,[9] while critics argued that the proposal was an attack on the school's comprehensive nature and would lead to a reduction in provision for pupils with special educational needs.[10] On 1 September 2007, Fortismere became a foundation school – despite opposition from 70 per cent of parents[11] and a petition from students demanding to be consulted on the changes.[12]

In September 2009, Önaç altered the comprehensive school's entry criteria, reserving places for musically gifted children – a policy described as 'elitist', favouring wealthier parents and more academic children.[13][14]

Önaç was also criticised for a policy towards children with special needs. Ten children were affected by the policy, which reduced personnel in what had been a well-staffed special needs department, and breached legal requirements concerning the hours of support provided to children.[14] Parents sought a judicial review of Önaç's approach to special needs provision, but in December 2009 he resigned from his post soon after the legal action started. The action was subsequently discontinued and special needs provision improved after Önaç's departure.[14]

Vertical tutoring and collegesEdit

Under the leadership of headteacher Helen Glass, Fortismere adopted a vertical tutoring system in September 2012.[15] Under the new system students are sorted into tutor groups that consist of students from Years 7–11. The school also introduced a college system. Following an online vote, it was decided that the new 'colleges' would be named after the Wonders of the World. There are six 'colleges': Alexandria, Ephesus, Colosseum, Rhodes, Olympia and Petra.[16]


The Fortimere site, showing the two main wings, Blanche Neville School and Eden Primary

The school occupies extensive grounds a little west of the centre of Muswell Hill. There are two main buildings on the site, the North Wing focuses mainly on English, Modern Languages and the Arts and South Wing which mainly focuses on Maths, Sciences and Humanities with a separate science block. The Wings are separated by playing fields, a sports hall, astroturf and tennis courts.

A sixth form building is adjacent to the South Wing, situated just inside the Tetherdown entrance. There are main entrances in Twyford Avenue (South Wing), Tetherdown (South Wing), and Creighton Avenue (North Wing).

Relationship with Blanche Nevile SchoolEdit

The secondary school part of the Blanche Nevile School for Deaf Children is located on the site of Fortismere School. The two schools maintain a strong partnership and are connected to the same computer server.[17]

Hosting Rustam SchoolEdit

Each Saturday Farsi is taught to a wide age spectrum.


The instrument of government requires 12 governors: one local authority governor; four parent governors elected by the parents; one staff governor; two partnership governors; three co-opted and the headteacher. There are four sub-committees: Curriculum, Physical Resources, Resources and Admissions.[18]


As a foundation school, Fortismere sets its own admission procedure. The duty to have a fair admissions procedure was defined by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. All students are funded by their local authority.

For year 7 entry it has a published admissions number of 243, which is 8 form entry. Applications are made through the local authority transfer procedure system. The school is responsible for defining the order of priority when more than 243 children apply.

Pupils with a Statement of Special Educational Needs[19] or an Education, Health and Care Plan[20][19] which names the school, are automatically offered a place. Places then go to Looked after children/previously looked after children,[19] then to children with exceptional medical or social need,[19] then to children with siblings in the school, and children of members of staff. Finally other children are selected by the distance they live from the reception area in the South Wing building.[21]

Year 12 entry is dependent on students having five C-grade GCSE passes or better, including English or Maths. For academic courses they must have the equivalent of five B-grade passes in Maths, English and the subjects they wish to study and any other published requirement. For the applied courses the bar is set at C-grade passes. Academic students are expected to pass the equivalent AS level exam before advancing into year 13.

There are a minimum of 50 extra places available for students transferring from other schools.[21]


As of 2010, the school follows the National Curriculum in Years 7–11 and offers a broad range of GCSEs, (national exams which are taken by students aged 14–16) and A-levels (national exams taken by pupils aged 16–18). The school has no affiliation with a particular religious denomination, but as is required by law, religious education is given throughout the school, and students may opt to take the subject as part of their GCSE options.[22]

Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum is covered during years 7, 8 and 9, though most subjects will commence using Key Stage 4 (i.e. GCSE) material during year 9. The 'Core Key Stage 3 Subjects' are English, Mathematics and Science. The Foundation Subjects are Art & Design, Geography, History, Music, Physical Education, Technology, Information Technology, Modern Languages. Additional Subjects are Religious Education, Drama and Wellbeing. The five cross-curricular themes are Careers, Wellbeing, Economic and industrial awareness, Environmental education and Health education.[22]

Key Stage 4 students study up to 10 GCSEs, depending on their ability. There are four core subjects studied by all students and four options delivered by a varied options system. This allows for the study of three separate sciences, as well as two languages and a range of courses, including vocational options. French, German, Spanish and Mandarin are offered. The English Baccalaureate will be awarded to any pupil who secures good GCSE or iGCSE passes (C and above) in all of the following subject areas: English, Maths, two sciences (which includes computer science), a foreign language, history or geography. This qualification is of particular interest to Russell Group universities. [23][24]

In addition to the subjects studied at Key Stage 3, Business Studies, Economics, ICT to include ECDL, Media Studies, Music Technology, Sports Studies, Health and Fitness, Photography, Engineering, Fashion and Textiles, Food and Catering, Performing Arts, Princes trust (Certificate), and Sociology are offered.[24]

Students who opt to stay on after sixteen study for BTEC or A levels. The following courses are offered Biology, Chemistry, Classical Civilisation, Computer Science, Drama & Theatre Studies, Economics, English, Film Studies, Fine Art, Geography, History, Mandarin Pre-U, Maths, Media Studies, French, Spanish, German, Music. Music Technology, philosophy, Photography, Physics, Politics, Product Design, Psychology, Sociology. Entry to each course is dependent on GCSE exam grades. Students who fail to obtain a good AS-level pass, are advised to retake it before continuing the A level course in year 13.[25]

Extracurricular activitiesEdit

School clubs and societies include various language clubs, sport clubs, and musical activities.[26]

Notable former pupilsEdit

Tollington SchoolEdit

Tollington Grammar SchoolEdit

William Grimshaw Secondary Modern SchoolEdit

Creighton Comprehensive SchoolEdit


  1. ^ "Our Staff". Fortismere School. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Fortismere School". Get information about schools. GOV.UK. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Our School". Fortismere School. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  4. ^ "League tables 2012". BBC News. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  5. ^ School prospectus 1928
  6. ^ "Opening ceremony programme and Hornsey Journal article 1959" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Hornsey, including Highgate: Education | British History Online". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Hunter Davies, The Creighton Report: A Year in the Life of a Comprehensive School (1976), Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-241-89412-3.
  9. ^ Fortismere School Governing Body. "Fortismere School – Foundation Status Informal Consultation" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2007. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Keep Fortismere Comprehensive campaign. "Keep Fortismere Comprehensive". Archived from the original on 6 May 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
  11. ^ Peters, Marijke (22 June 2007). "The deed is done: Fortismere's governors vote to go it alone as one resigns". Ham & High. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Fortismere students demand a say in foundation status controversy". Ham & High. 18 July 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  13. ^ Newton, Charlotte (24 September 2009). "Go-ahead for 'elitist' selection at Fortismere". Ham & High. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Taylor, Diane; Hattenstone, Simon (5 September 2017). "Before Aydin Önaç reached St Olave's, we fought him over our autistic daughter's care". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  15. ^ "200 invalid-request".
  16. ^ "200 invalid-request". Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  17. ^ "Blanche Nevile School for Deaf Children", Fortismere.
  18. ^ "Governors". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d "School admissions". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Education, Health and Care plans". (IPSEA) Independent Parental Special Education Advice.
  21. ^ a b "Admission arrangements for entry in September 2018" (PDF). Governors of Fortismere School. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Key Stage 3". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  23. ^ "Key Stage 4". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  24. ^ a b "2017 Options Booklet" (PDF). Fortismere Governors. 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  25. ^ "The 6th Form Curriculum at Fortismere". Fortismere Governors. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  26. ^ "Fortismere Learning- Extracurricular". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b c d Dafydd Rees & Luke Crampton,Q Encyclopedia of Rock Stars, (1996), Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 0-7513-0393-3
  28. ^ "Who's on the new education select committee?". 2 July 2015.

External linksEdit