Top-selling DJ Will Kennard proposes new Free School specialising in music for Tower Hamlets

Will Kennard (left) and bandmate Saul Milton. Pic: Chase & Status

One half of chart-topping duo Chase and Status has put forward plans to open a free school in Tower Hamlets.

Will Kennard, also known as Status, spoke to EastLondonLines about his proposal to establish the East London Academy of Music.

The school will cater for 16- to 19-year-olds who want to work in the music industry. It will teach production methods and technology, alongside GSCEs in maths and English.

Kennard said: “Inspiration for the school came from my own experience of teaching.

“After I left university early in Manchester, I taught music BTEC at North Trafford College and thought that there were some ridiculously talented kids there.

“I kept in touch with some of them but, for whatever reason, they did not go on to experience the kind of success that I did.

“This made me think that there is a real need for good music education at that level. It was eye-opening.”

The ELAM bid is being assisted by the New School’s Network development programme.

NSN is a charity that provides funding and support to groups setting up free schools.

Mike Crowhurst, an advisor at NSN, said: “We support all groups who want to set up a free school. If we think the group has high potential and they are working in an area of educational disadvantage, then they can be put on our development programme and receive extra support in terms of time and budget.

“The team will then meet with the Department of Education and, if successful, can expect to open in September 2014.”

Kennard’s brother, Charlie, and former teachers Ed Butcher and Olli Hallam will join the team, alongside Izzi Rutherford, a solicitor, and Ben Colgrave, an investment banker.

Asked why Tower Hamlets was chosen as the location for ELAM, Kennard said: “We did a lot of research in London and felt that Tower Hamlets was the right starting place.

“It is the poorest borough and one of the poorest areas in the country, so we thought a further education college could be needed there. We found that about 40% of pupils in Tower Hamlets left school without GCSEs in maths and English, so that will something we provide.

“But GCSEs will not be necessary to get in. There will be a series of interviews and we will be looking for enthusiasm.”

Rutherford added: “The school will be for students who don’t already have contacts in the industry.

“Our aim is to provide industry knowledge. We are still working on our admissions process but applicants will be assessed according to our core values: collaboration, innovation, excellence and integrity.”

The ELAM team has looked at the Brit School in Croydon, whose former pupils include Jessie J and Adele, for inspiration.

Kennard said: “The Brit School has been amazingly supportive, we have looked round the site and had meetings with the head teacher. Their school is obviously bigger and covers more subjects but we are looking at them as a model.

“We want the school to have industry-standard equipment.

“It will be small, with 144 pupils over two year groups, so the budget we have outlined is well within that afforded by the Department of Education.”

The ELAM team will host an information event and showcase of local artists on December 12 at Oxford House, Bethnal Green.

Eastlondonlines’ stories on Free Schools can be found here: and and


  1. ELAM2014 November 6, 2012
  2. Sally November 6, 2012

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