An innovative arts and music school founded three years ago by one half of electronic music duo Chase and Status is to move into its newly built home in Bromley, Tower Hamlets, by Easter.
East London Arts and Music School is a free school for 16-19 year-olds and was founded by Will Kennard (‘Status’) and his brother Charlie Kennard, who is Principle of the school.
The Education Funding Authority could not find ELAM a suitable building to move into so they have been residing in an empty sixth form block of an already existing school in Stratford – called School 21. The lease runs out at the end of the academic year.
Will Kennard told Eastlondonlines: “The plan was always to inhabit our own building’ he said, ‘We moved into [School 21’s] sixth form block and have been there from the start up until now. Fortunately, during that time a plot of wasteland was found in Bromley-By-Bow. We put forward a strong case as to why that plot of land would work for us and we were approved. And so, for the last two years, we have been designing a building which is now being built.”
“School 21 is a great building; it’s worked brilliantly. The head has been really supportive – there’s been great synergy between the schools and there haven’t been any problems.”
“They need their sixth form back because they need to move their year 11’s into year 12. It’s been a fantastic home for us but we’ll have a lot more space in this new build.”
ELAM, which is on the cusp of its first Ofsted inspection, was set up to provide a “really, really high-end level of music education” to students who wouldn’t ordinarily receive the opportunities.
Will said: “If you go to a private school, your facilities in the arts will be much better and the networks the school has will be better. It really bothered me that I went to private school and had wonderful chances because of that”.
“In many schools we visited we spoke to many music teachers who really struggled. We thought that it was ridiculous and there should be more emphasis on that side of things. It is a huge part of the economy.”
ELAM has close links with some of the best music and arts schools in the country, such as the Brit School in Croydon, and Nordoff Robbins. On the governing body is Nick Williams, who was head of the Brit School for 10 years, and is Vice-Principle is Liz Penney, former director of music at the Brit School – and responsible of cultivating talent such as Adele.
These links, along with Will’s connections within the music industry, have helped students get a foot in the door. Although only one year-group has graduated so far, ELAM has seen alumni go into music management, sign record deals, progress to University and work for BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra.
The success rate and the positive feedback means that ELAM is already five times over subscribed. The move will address this somewhat by doubling the intake to three hundred.
The new building will provide state of the art facilities, including film studios, gaming studios and production suites. It will also have its own theatre in the heart of the building with a capacity of 500.
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