City Learning Trust, the CBSO and Sandwell Council announce consultation for a new specialist Music School


Pupils taking part in Spirit of Birmingham Project.
Pupils taking part in Spirit of Birmingham Project.

The City Learning Trust is consulting on its proposal to open a new specialist music school in Sandwell, West Midlands, in association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with ambitions to establish a global centre of excellence for music education.

Reflecting its ambition to offer access to world-class musical opportunities for everyone, the CBSO is working with Sandwell Council and the City Learning Trust – one of the most successful multi-academy trusts in the country – to submit a free school application as part of the next wave of applications to the Department for Education (DfE).

Subject to approval from the DfE, the new school would open in Sandwell in September 2020, coinciding with celebrations marking the CBSO’s centenary.  It would cater for students aged 7 to 19, from primary through to secondary and sixth form. In addition to the normal academic curriculum, the school would specialise in classical, instrumental and choral music.  Every child would have the opportunity to learn at least one musical instrument, and students would also benefit from regular projects with CBSO musicians. The school’s most talented young instrumentalists and singers would have access to opportunities through the CBSO’s extensive talent development programme, which includes youth and training orchestras and two youth choruses. 

The CBSO is the second orchestra with which the City Learning Trust has collaborated. Plans for the Hallé Music Free School, which will be based in Stoke-on-Trent, were announced earlier in the year and that school is also due to open in 2020.

Mark O'Brien plays alongside Project Remix Participants.
Mark O'Brien plays alongside Project Remix Participants.
Mike Seal leads conductor workshops during Youth Orchestra.
Mike Seal leads conductor workshops during Youth Orchestra.
Mirga meets school children before KS3 concert.
Mirga meets school children before KS3 concert.

“The CBSO is committed to supporting and developing the musical abilities and interests of children and young people from early years groups to university students. We currently do this through an extensive – and internationally admired – programme of opportunities ranging from workshops by individual musicians in schools, through pathways to support and develop outstanding talent, to orchestral concerts for young audiences at Symphony Hall. Our partnership with the City Learning Trust is a logical extension of this programme, and the proposed new school would give us the opportunity to further use our musical expertise to support young people’s achievement and aspiration.”

Stephen Maddock OBE CBSO Chief Executive

“Evidence suggests that regular access to high-quality musical opportunities can have a positive impact on attainment across all areas of the curriculum. Our hope is that, as well as helping young people achieve improved academic results, the proposed music school would also inspire the music teachers and music professionals of the future.

The CBSO is one of the most vibrant cultural organisations in the UK. We are delighted and proud to be working together on this exciting initiative.

This new school would be well-supported by our established network of local, national and international business partners; we would encourage any businesses and organisations to get in touch if they are interested in supporting our education vision by nominating governors, giving students an insight into businesses and/or providing mentoring and coaching opportunities.”

Carl Ward Chief Executive, City Learning Trust

“This school would give young people in Sandwell the chance to be inspired by our musicians throughout their education. I am thrilled that the CBSO is involved with the project”.

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla CBSO Music Director

"I'm thrilled the CBSO is looking to come to Sandwell. We have so many talented young musicians here who will really benefit from being educated at a school partnered with such a renowned orchestra. If the application is approved we will work with City Learning Trust and the CBSO to find a suitable site for the new free school."

Councillor Steve Eling Leader of Sandwell Council