The 3 Rs: reading, writing, rhythms


21 October 2012
The Sunday Times

ONE of the hottest acts on the dance music scene plan to open a state-funded free school in London.

Chase and Status, a duo with a string of chart hits to their name, are in the advanced stages of planning a school for teenagers keen to work in the music industry.

The school, in east London, will enrol students aged 16-19 and provide courses from how to perform dubstep and other musical styles to music technology. It will also try to ensure that they pass English and maths GCSEs if they have not already done so.

The school is being set up under a programme introduced by Michael Gove, the education secretary, to increase the variety of state schools. It is backed by the Brit school, where stars including Adele and the late Amy Winehouse trained.

The Chase and Status school is among 35 projects to be announced tomorrow by the New Schools Network, a government-funded charity that co-ordinates free school plans. The NSN will give schemes money and support to help bring them to fruition.

The 35 include a secondary school in the capital backed by the debating club charity Debate Mate; a bilingual Chinese-English primary in Manchester and the Discovery free school, which aims to “restore aspiration” to a run-down Nottinghamshire mining town. All plan to open in 2014.

The dubstep artist Will Kennard, better known to fans as Status, said he had been inspired to set up a school with his teacher brother, Charlie, after coaching poor teenagers at North Trafford college in Manchester. Kennard, 31, who was brought up in a single-parent family and educated privately at St Paul’s in west London, worked at the college after dropping out of university.

“I came across some incredibly talented kids who did not know how good they were at music,” he said. “They did not really progress to the next level and realise their ambitions. These kids were probably more talented than I was, yet here I am succeeding in the music industry. Why aren’t they?” Rachel Wolf, director of the NSN, said: “We have seen some groups of great potential not being able to convert into delivering schools. So we are giving some schools extra funding and arranged specialist help from people like lawyers and accountants who can help deliver a school. Some are doing things we haven’t seen before in the state sector.”