An early student at the Royal Polytechnic Institution at Regent Street was Francis (Frank) Didden. In 1884 Didden moved to Woolwich to take up a job as a fitter at the Royal Arsenal. He also had a burning ambition to set up a Polytechnic in Woolwich.
In 1884 Woolwich had a population of about 34,000 people, many of whom were employed as engineers at the Royal Arsenal, or the other large factories in the area. Despite its industries Woolwich had many slums, drunkenness was widespread, and many jobs offered little or no real security. For many people a lack of education and dissolute habits prevented them from "getting on". Didden saw a polytechnic as a way forward, and in 1886 he asked Hogg for support. Hoggs' reply is illuminating.
"You certainly require, as a minimum, a gymnasium, a few classrooms, a readying room and a coffee bar, besides some small hall whenere meetings can be held."
Didden campaigned passionately, and in 1890 T.A. Denny, a Woolwich bacon merchant, provided most of the £1,000 needed to buy a house in William Street, (now Calderwood Street). In 1981, it offered 38 courses to 504 students. True to Hogg's model, Didden ensured that there was a very strong supporting and social side to attract and reform the habits of members.
Woolwich Polytechnic Junior Technical School for Boys, was established in 1912 to train boys for jobs in engineering.
The School became the responsibility of London County Council in 1956, as Woolwich Polytechnic Boys School.
In 1974 Woolwich Poly was reorganised as a six-form entry comprehensive school spread over two sites. Years 1 and 2 (now 7 and 8) were in MacBean Street, while the Upper School occupied the premises of the old Woolwich Central School in Sandy Hill Road.
In 1997 the school was designated a Technology College. The school maintained a presence in Woolwich up to 1999 when the Upper and Lower Schools were combined in the former Waterfield School buildings in Thamesmead.
The school was granted a sixth form in 2011, and at this time it was (at 8 forms of entry) the largest all-boys 11-16 comprehensive in England. Exam results improved and the Poly was the most improved boys' school in England in 2010.
Woolwich Polytechnic is the one of the longest-standing, Ofsted rated, Outstanding schools in the country, having held the Ofsted badge since 2011. The school also received Ofsted Outstanding for Behaviour in 2016.
Woolwich Polytechnic School converted to academy status on 1 August 2014.
The school now has an excellent reputation for the quality of its pastoral care and provision of education and is consistently over-subscribed at both Year 7 and Year 12.