Hackney theatre school founder sets his sights on free school

David Stinson and kids from his theatre school pose with actress Barbara Windsor from the Big Commun

David Stinson and kids from his theatre school pose with actress Barbara Windsor from the Big Community Lunch on Sunday at the Cr8 Lifestyle centre - Credit: Archant

A professional singer and dancer is looking to set up a performing arts free school in Hackney to give as many children as possible the opportunity to nurture their creative talent.

Drama teacher David Stinson, 27, set up a theatre school under his name in Isabella Road, Homerton, three years ago after working at a primary school in the borough.

It has since moved to the Cr8 Lifestyle Centre in Eastway, Hackney Wick, and has more than 50 students on its books – and Mr Stinson is in the process of submitting an application for a performing arts free school to the Department for Education.

He said: “I was a singer and a dance on cruise ships. My passion is teaching so I started teaching at St John and St James Primary School and realised there was a lot of talent in Hackney.

“But the kids who had talent could not afford to go to theatre schools and could not receive proper training, so I decided to set up my own.”

He initially set up the theatre school on Saturdays offering five hours’ tuition in tap, jazz, ballet, musical theatre, acting, singing and street dance for £15 and Mr Stinson said it is now “one of the leading theatre schools in London”.

Mr Stinson, a talent agent for the West End and TV, said: “We’ve got three children in The Lion King from Hackney. Six more children are in the Lion King cub school and when they graduate they hope to get into The Lion King show in the West End or the UK touring show.

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“We’ve just got a boy in the Fletcher school, where they train up boys for the role of Whitney’s Houston’s son in musical The Bodgyguard.”

But the school is not focused solely on launching children’s careers – it is fully inclusive and accepts youngsters who may be less physically and mentally able.

He now hopes to open the British International School of Creative Excellence in September 2015, which will be the only state-funded school in the country offering the international baccalaureate (IB) through from aged three to 19.

Mr Stinson, of Old Compton Street, Soho, added: “I love teaching because I enjoy passing on my skills – particularly to kids who don’t get the chance to learn.

“I find it more rewarding than going on stage and performing my stuff.

“After seeing the success of the theatre school, I’ve seen how kids grow. As Hackney is such as multicultural area and the arts brings different cultures together I thought it would be good to set up a school which celebrates multiculturalism.”

“I just think every child deserves the opportunity to learn how to perform.

He added: “Children will start at age three and leave at 19 so they have constant pastoral care and guidance all the way through.”

The team will find out in October if their application has been successful.