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Birmingham Council leader Mike Whitby is making a real song and dance about the city’s latest attraction – a new performing arts academy in Eastside.

The school – called the West Midlands Eastside Arts Academy – is being supported by the BRIT Academy in Croydon which opened 12 years ago, and has nurtured talents like Katie Melua, Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash and Leona Lewis

It will host 950 pupils from across the region, admitted at the ages of either 14 or 16 – and as well as giving opportunities to youngsters who can’t afford fee-paying institutions, should help prevent the “brain drain” of young talent to London.

The Academy is due to open in 2011/2012 supported by sponsorship from the Ormiston Trust, Edutrust and The King Edward VI Foundation.

Whitby was understandably cock-a-hoop at the news, saying: "This is an exciting day for the future of education in the city of Birmingham.

“We have a vision to transform education across the city, so that all our young people can benefit from excellent schools and the best opportunities in life, both academically and socially.

“The addition of an Arts Academy will help to further attract inward investment into the city, give a major boost to the creative sector in the city and significantly support the continued regeneration of Eastside.”

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis who was in Birmingham to oversee the announcement added, “This is a path-breaking development for the national Academies programme. The Eastside Arts Academy is the first Academy entirely for pupils with aptitude in the performing arts.”

Birmingham’s has seven other proposed Academies, but these are all schools which have traditionally under-performed - Harborne Hill (Edgbaston), Heartlands High (Nechells), Kings Norton High (Kings Norton), St Alban’s (Highgate), Sheldon Heath (Sheldon), Shenley Court (Selly Oak) and The College High (Erdington).

The creation of an entirely new institution marks an exciting and positive departure for the programme.

Do you welcome the Performing Arts Academy?

Do Academies in general have a role to play in education?

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