A leading international orchestra is planning to open a state school and make it a centre of excellence for music. The Halle Orchestra wants to open a school in Stoke-on-Trent in 2020, for both primary and secondary pupils. The orchestra will work with an academy trust in setting up the school.
John Summers, chief executive of the orchestra, said the project would use music to “raise aspirations” across other academic subjects. The school, proposed with the City Learning Trust, would be part of the free schools programme – and approval for its opening depends on the Department for Education.
But the orchestra wants to open the school in September 2020, for seven to 19-year-olds, with the promise of masterclasses from musicians, access to concerts and artists in residence. The intention is for students to spend 40% of their time in specialist music classes, working with the Halle Choir, The Halle Youth Orchestra and Halle for Youth.
“The Halle has a huge amount of expertise and experience in working at high level performance, both in terms of instrumental coaching and choral training,” said John Summers, chief executive of the Halle. “Through our expertise we will also help develop music in the curriculum as a means of supporting academic achievement and aspiration.”
There are precedents for such a connection between orchestras and schools.
In the German city of Bremen, there has been a high-profile partnership when a leading orchestra set up its rehearsal rooms and headquarters in a comprehensive school on a housing estate. The musicians of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen became part of the daily life of the school – and truancy rates were lowered and academic results improved.