Headmistress of Croydon X Factor star ‘not surprised’ at her success


Hannah Barrett won over the judges.


By Alice Todman

A Croydon teenager’s X Factor appearances have won her support at home and away.

Hannah Barrett, 17, has impressed audiences of ITV’s singing competition with her emotive performances. Before she reached our screens, Miss Barrett spent a respite term at the Croydon African and Caribbean Family Organisation (CACFO)’s independent school.

Many of CACFO’s students have been temporarily or permanently excluded from their mainstream schools. Others, like Hannah, are referred to the school for extra support for core subjects or behavioural problems.

Interim Headmistress, Patricia Oliver, 52, said that while she was unaware of Hannah’s plans to enter the X Factor, she was ‘not surprised’ as the X Factor star was ‘always serenading us.’

Hannah may have benefitted from CACFO’s Creative Arts programme. Since Hannah left, the school has developed a studio where students can set lyrics to music and create music using computer software.

The classroom’s walls are adorned with students’ artwork, such as baskets and hats made out of newspapers. The Creative Arts programme balances out the National Curriculum subjects of English, Maths, Science and ICT.  Mrs Oliver suggests that while these lessons are less academic, they help students to get a taste of a career in the creative industries.

While Hannah Barrett is a high profile success, the school takes pride in having re-integrated the majority of its students into mainstream schools. Some alumni have gone on to college or to start their own businesses.

“Our doors are always open to former pupils and the school is a home away from home,” she said.

The school always incorporates Black History Month into the timetable for October, although the Interim Headmistress stresses that: ‘it’s not just a one month thing for us.’

CACFO, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, was founded in 1993 by Councillor Gee Bernard (CQSW), Croydon’s first elected black female MP.

The school’s original purpose was to assist children who had just arrived in the UK, before it began the work of a PRU (Pupil Referral Unit).

CACFO is a charity and welcomes volunteers with enhanced CRB checks in both the school and its centre for the elderly.  

Photo courtesy of rocor, with thanks.       

Follow us @SW_Londoner

Related Articles