One of the UK’s top music schools, Chetham's School of Music in Manchester offers students an opportunity to pursue a music-focused education with a full bursary.
It's home to a community of 300 students aged eight to 18 years from the UK and overseas, all with a shared interest in pursuing further studies and a career in music. Leavers go on to leading conservatoires and music colleges including Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
It's a fee-paying school with annual tuition fees of £25,000 (£33,000 for boarders), but 85% receive up to full funding through the Department for Education's Music & Dance Scheme (MDS).
Over two thirds of the students are boarders who live on campus, 10% are international students, and admission is based on musical talent (all applicants attend an audition) and there's no academic entry criteria to get into Chetham's.
As a specialist music school, a third of the timetable is dedicated to music. Students have at least three hours of music lessons every day, encompassing instrumental tuition, performance, aural training, choral work, academic music, community arts programmes, supported practice, composition and music technology. Performing is part of daily school life; daily lunchtime concerts, full scale symphony orchestra and Big Band concerts are among the 300-plus performances of the school calendar.
There are eight musical departments, so plenty of opportunity for students to find right pathway for them, and school manages to balance the traditional with the modern. Collaboration between Chetham’s and Manchester Cathedral opens the doors to students interested in church music; there's a growing music technology department; and there's a diverse jazz programme. A Fit to Perform programme focuses on the wellbeing needs of young musicians, everything from gym sessions to healthy eating, and
Teaching follows the UK curriculum and students take GCSE and A Level exams in Years 11 and 13, with many students taking fewer academic subjects than their peers in a mainstream school. While the focus is very much on music here, students are performing well on the academic side too with small class sizes helping to give students that extra level of personal support as they manage the heavy workload of GCSEs and A Levels with a demanding music programme.
Over the past five years, 92% of A Level students and 96% of GCSE students have passed with grades from A*-C; unsurprisingly, music is the most popular GCSE and A Level.
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