Year 11 students are kept at the school for another hour after the end of the school day for “compulsory intervention”, which are extra classes in the run up to GCSEs – but also serve as a way to keep the teenagers out of danger.
Meanwhile, Year 10 students who are particularly at risk of violence or being preyed on by gangs are offered a range of after school activities such as boxing, basketball and life coaching sessions.
Afterwards, a teacher will escort them home. Lisa Kattenhorn, principal of the Harris academy in Tottenham, told how students at her school deal with violence on a “daily basis”, either because they know people who have been victims of knife crime or are victims themselves.
She said that during her after-school patrols she would go to the local high street and the KFC where teenagers congregate and chat to local youths.
“Sometimes they have balaclavas on so you can only see your eyes. I say ‘who are you under there? We are having a conversation’. You can’t be scared of it,” she said.
“I will go into the KFC and say hello. I know the regulars at the local retail centre. Some are fine, I can keep an eye on those I’m not too sure about. All I can say is I do what I can for my children in my academy.”
Around one in every 40 children in London are educated at Harris academies, a group which prides itself on raising aspiration among children from deprived backgrounds.
The academy chain, which is sponsored by the Tory donor and former Carpetright chair Lord Harris of Peckham, has won praise from the social mobility charity the Sutton Trust for having a “transformational” effect of pupils’ lives.
Sir Dan said that his priority is to deliver a great education for children. But he added: “The reality of urban life is if you have schools in urban areas, you can’t ignore this stuff and say ‘it doesn’t happen here’ – sooner or later it will.”