The Department for Education has given its approval to the plans put forth by the BPI, the representative voice for record labels throughout the UK, to establish a new specialist creative school in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
The proposal, named ‘BRIT School North’, was submitted to the Department for Education as part of a highly competitive process for securing funding for free schools. The aim of this proposal is to create a dedicated 16-19 college in the heart of Bradford, offering a distinct educational option for students from West Yorkshire and the North. The school will provide a focused environment for immersive learning in various performance, production, and digital subjects, catering exclusively to the creative learning experience.
This concept draws inspiration from the successful model of the BRIT School located in Croydon. The BRIT School, which has been operational for over three decades, offers free education and has gained a reputation as a global leader in nurturing and educating creative talent. The proposal also takes inspiration from the achievements of East London Arts & Music (ELAM) in Bromley-by-Bow, in which Universal Music UK, a member of the BPI, played a foundational role.
The proposed curriculum of this new institution will offer a mix of performance-oriented and skill-based subjects including music, theatre, musical theatre, dance, film and TV, interactive digital design, and production arts.
The school aims to attract young individuals aspiring to forge careers in the creative industries, a priority growth sector highlighted by the Government.
The BPI, drawing from its experience, believes that such an educational setting is instrumental in nurturing exceptional talent for the UK, as demonstrated by former BRIT School students who have achieved success as artists, including recent Mercury Award nominees.
The BPI, along with its label members, has long harboured the aspiration of establishing a specialised creative school beyond London and the South East of England.
This ambition is built upon the achievements of the BRIT School and ELAM models, while also upholding a resolute commitment to enhance inclusivity and accessibility in the music and broader creative industries, irrespective of one’s background.
The bid for this project involved a collaborative effort between the BPI, record labels Sony Music Entertainment UK, Universal Music UK, and Warner Music UK, the BRIT School, ELAM, and the Day One Trust, which oversees ELAM and the London Screen Academy (LSA).
These partnerships are integral to ensuring direct connections with the wider local, national, and global creative industries, thus enriching the curriculum and affording students unique experiences. The three record label partners have pledged initial supplementary funding for the school, which is intended to facilitate the acquisition of cutting-edge equipment.
Bradford has been identified as an optimal location for this new institution, selected after meticulous assessment to ensure alignment with goals of expanding creative opportunities for underserved youth and providing a conducive environment within the broader creative ecosystem.
With a burgeoning creative economy and the honor of being designated City of Culture 2025, Bradford is poised to benefit from the legacy commitment associated with this school.
It aligns with Bradford’s 10-year cultural strategy, spotlighting the pivotal role of creative industries in the local economy. The proposal enjoys enthusiastic support from West Yorkshire’s Mayor, Tracy Brabin, who recognises its potential to exert a positive influence across the region, catering to youth not only from West Yorkshire but also beyond its borders.
Anticipated to commence operations in 2026/2027, the school’s definitive location is yet to be confirmed; however, it will be strategically situated in the central area of Bradford, West Yorkshire.
Dr Jo Twist OBE, Chief Executive of BPI said: “We are delighted with this decision and it is a positive signal that Government recognises the critical importance of creative and specialist creative arts education.
“The UK is a world-leader in music and across the creative industries and if we want this to continue, we must invest in talent and the highly transferable skills needed for a competitive economy. This school will not only focus on producing our next generation of performers but crucially, train young people with the important technical qualities needed for our industries to thrive and provide them with opportunities that they otherwise might not be able to access.”
Secretary of State for DCMS, Lucy Frazer said: “For more than thirty years, the BRIT School has been nurturing the next generation of creative talent – producing some of the most influential and successful performers and artists of our time.
“The new school in Bradford will give even more young people the opportunity to develop their skills and maximise their potential while creating a pipeline of talent for our thriving creative industries.”
Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin said: “This is a fantastic win for the North and supports our ambition to ensure opportunities for all, no matter where you’re from or where you live.
“The build up to Bradford UK City of Culture 2025 has already started to inspire the next generation of artists.
“And now, with West Yorkshire becoming the home of Brit School North, more young people can follow in the footsteps of our world-class homegrown artists, from the likes of Mel B and Corinne Bailey Rae to the Kaiser Chiefs.”
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “This is brilliant news for the Bradford district and will help cement our place as a creative powerhouse. There is a huge creative and cultural buzz around Bradford right now. We are preparing to be the UK’s City of Culture in 2025 and will soon celebrate the opening of Bradford Live, a new 4000 capacity live music venue in the old Odeon cinema.
“I am delighted that the BPI has decided Bradford would be the perfect location for their new school. It is a great decision on their part. There is enormous talent in our young, energetic, diverse population and this can bring them life-changing opportunities.
“It’s exciting to think about the future stars of music, art, film, TV and dance from our region. This school will help them to fulfil their dreams.”