Education secretary Michael Gove has been accused of 'breathtaking hypocrisy' for praising investment in the new Globe Academy just weeks after he axed plans to rebuild hundreds of schools across the country.
Mr Gove cut a ribbon to officially open the Deverell Street school before addressing the first assembly in the new building designed by Amanda Levete Architects.
It is two years since former children's secretary Ed Balls launched the new Globe Academy which was formed from a merger of the old Joseph Lancaster Primary School and Geoffrey Chaucer Technology College.
Since then a new school building has been built on the former playground and the previous academic buildings are now being demolished.
Known as the the Paul Marshall Building, the new school is named after the hedge fund millionaire who chairs the academy's board of governors. Mr Marshall is a Liberal Democrat supporter who was a co-author of The Orange Book.
The Globe Academy is sponsored by Ark, the educational charity founded by Arpad Busson.
"Since we opened as Globe Academy we've had some terrific successes," said principal Jason Baigent.
"In our first year we raised GCSE achievement by nine percentage points. This year we improved our results again and our outgoing year 11 achieved the school's best ever results, lifting GCSE achievement by another six percentage points. Next year we will do even better."
He told pupils gathered in the sports hall of his high expectations for them, and said that he would not rest until Globe is the best school in Southwark and London.
"Amanda Levete, the architect, has stunned us all with an inspirational building which is both beautiful to look at and offers excellent educational structure and design," added Mr Baigent.
The education secretary told pupils: "Your future will depend on the decisions taken here: decisions taken by your teachers and decisions taken by you. But the decision to invest in this building reflects the belief of everyone here that all of you can achieve fantastic things."
Mr Gove has come under fire for cancelling the rebuilding of hundreds of schools across the country which had been planned by the last Government through the Building Schools for the Future programme.
Although Southwark's school building programme escaped the axe, projects in neighbouring Lambeth – including the expansion of SE1's London Nautical School – have been shelved.
"Speaking about building for the future and how important it was for pupils to have smart new buildings at a time when he has denied that opportunity to thousands of children across the country was surprising to say the least.
"I'm sure the Globe Academy will be a great addition to Southwark's schools system but I'm not convinced that Michael Gove was the right person to open it."
Before the new school could be built, hundreds of bodies had to be removed from the former New Bunhill Fields burial ground which was below the surface of the Geoffrey Chaucer Technology College playground. The human remains have been reburied at Canvey Island.
For the latest local news and events direct to your inbox every Monday, you need our weekly email newsletter SE1 Direct.
7,000+ locals read it every week. Can you afford to miss out?
Read the latest issue before signing up