11/10/2011 05:20 BST | Updated 10/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Helen Mirren Free School Given The Go Ahead By Gove

A new school which has the support of Dame Helen Mirren has been given the green light, it has been confirmed.

Wapping High School in east London is one of 55 new free schools that have been granted permission by Education Secretary Michael Gove to open from next September onwards.

It is expected the school will eventually cater to around 405 pupils from the Wapping, Shadwell and Limehouse areas of Tower Hamlets.

Oscar winner Dame Helen gave her backing earlier this year, offering her "full support" and urging the Government and business leaders to do the same.

The school is due to be set up in an area that is suffering from a lack of school places, and has one of the highest levels of child poverty in England.

Mr Gove is announcing details of the second wave of free schools that have been approved to open from next autumn after the first 24 free schools opened this September.

Free schools, which are a flagship education reform of the coalition Government, are semi-independent state schools set up by parents, teachers, faith groups and other organisations.

Also among those due to open next year is the London Academy of Excellence in Newham, east London, which is supported by several leading private schools.

Half of the academy's pupils will come from Newham, which has high numbers of pupils eligible for free school meals - a measure of poverty. To win a place, pupils must score at least five A grades at GCSE.

Rachel Wolf, director of the New Schools Network, which is supporting groups to set up new schools said: "The speed at which the number of free schools is growing illustrates the interest that exists in improving local education. Amongst the successful groups are outstanding teachers, inspirational charities and deeply committed parents, all of whom share one main goal - to ensure every child has access to the best education possible."