First fully-selective academy to promote performing arts

England is to get its first fully selective academy, catering for performing arts students.

Schools minister Andrew Adonis announced today that Birmingham will get its own performing arts academy modelled on the BRIT school in Croydon, which counts Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash and Katie Melua among its alumni.

The BRIT school in south London had previously claimed to be the UK’s only free specialist performing arts school but pupils in the West Midlands will now be able to access specialist arts education through the state.

West Midlands Eastside Arts Academy expects to cater for around 300 pupils at GCSE level, with a further 650 joining the academy after 16. Pupils can join the academy at 14 or 16 and will be selected purely on the basis of their aptitude in a chosen art.

Eastside adds to Birmingham’s network of academies, with the city enthusiastically adopting Labour’s city academies programme.

Appearing alongside city council leader Mike Whitby today, Lord Adonis also announced the sponsors of a further two new academies.

The Edutrust will sponsor the College High academy in Erdington. The King Edward VI Foundation, which already manages two private schools and five state grammars in the city, will sponsor the Sheldon Heath Academy.

Lord Adonis said: “This is a path-breaking development for the national academies programme.

“The Eastside Arts Academy is the first academy entirely for pupils with aptitude in the performing arts. It will draw pupils beyond the age of 14 from across the West Midlands, on the model of the highly successful BRIT School in Croydon, south London, which has a national reputation.

“King Edward VI is one of the nation’s leading school managers, spanning the private and state sectors, and it will now extend its excellent provision with a new academy.”

Today’s announcement brings the total number of academies in Birmingham to seven, with ministers claiming the £750 million Building Schools for the Future programme is “totally transforming” education in the city.

Birmingham and Manchester now have the largest academy programmes in the country, with the government hoping other cities will follow suit and adopt multi-academy schemes.