City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra hopes to open £8 million school of music in West Bromwich

West Bromwich could become the home of the first secondary school in the country to be sponsored by a world famous orchestra – if an £8 million deal goes through.

Providence Place West Bromwich could become the first free school in the UK sponsored by an orchestra.
Providence Place West Bromwich could become the first free school in the UK sponsored by an orchestra.

Sandwell Council is being asked to sell its five-storey building in Providence Place so the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) can open a 750-pupil school specialising in music.

In a report to next week’s cabinet, council bosses are recommending the office block is sold to the Department for Education to set up a free school..

The choice of the site by the CBSO comes after the government gave the green light to the joint proposal by the orchestra and Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust.

Sandwell councillors are now being asked to back the scheme by selling the building and adjacent land.

Members of the council’s budget and corporate scrutiny management board met behind closed doors to discuss the sale this week.

In their report to cabinet, officers said: "The preferred future use of the asset is set out within this report, this being the disposal of the property and the adjacent development plot for best consideration and to also enable to the Department for Education to develop a new 750-place free school on these sites."

A second option of converting the building into flats has been rejected as too expensive.

Stephen Maddock, chief executive of of the orchestra, has said its education programme has already proved a boon for the West Midlands.

He said: "The CBSO has a long tradition of innovation in music education and community work – we were the first British symphony orchestra to present concerts for young people and the first to establish a specialist education department and to build a community facility – all of which have allowed us to make a real musical impact on young people and the wider community in the West Midlands."

Sandwell's cabinet will discuss the report at the meeting on Wednesday.

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