Education in Birmingham
Primary and secondary education
As in the rest of England and Wales, education is compulsory in Birmingham between the ages of 5 and 16. The majority of children are educated in state schools which follow the National Curriculum. These are divided into primary schools for children from Reception to Year 6 (5 to 11) and secondary schools for children from Year 7 to Year 11 (11 to 16). Most secondary schools in Birmingham also have a sixth form (Years 12 and 13), but sixth form education is also provided in a number of sixth form colleges and further education colleges.
Most of Birmingham's state schools are community schools run directly by Birmingham City Council in its role as local education authority (LEA). However, there are a large number of voluntary aided schools within the state system, primarily Roman Catholic schools, but also schools whose religious basis is Anglican, Jewish and Islamic and schools which are non-denominational. In addition, there are a number of foundation schools in Birmingham (which were formerly grant maintained schools) which enjoy greater independence from the LEA than community schools.
Most state secondary schools in Birmingham are comprehensive, but a number of historic grammar schools, among them Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Handsworth Grammar School and Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls and the grammar schools of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI, survived the policy of moving to a comprehensive system in the 1960s and 1970s - mostly due to the historical accident of their exact legal relationship with the LEA.
A minority of Birmingham's children attend private schools which range from small institutions to historic schools of national prestige such as King Edward's School.
Seven schools in Birmingham are to become academies in an attempt to improve the learning experience. As of July 2007, five schools have signed deals with sponsors and education charities. ARK Academies and Edutrust invested £4m and are to run two academies each. Richardsons Capital LLP will run the other academy. A further two more schools were in need of sponsors. ARK Academies are to run St Alban's CE Academy and Harborne Hill, whilst Edutrust will run Heartlands High and Shenley Court. Kings Norton High will be run by Richardsons Capital. College High School will be run in partnership with Edutrust and Aston Villa F.C.
Birmingham has several colleges of further education funded primarily by the Learning and Skills Council, including City College, Josiah Mason College, Cadbury College, Queen Alexandra College, Bournville College, and Birmingham Metropolitan College. Several of these also offer courses in higher education in conjunction with external colleges and universities.
In addition to the numerous institutions which offer education primarily to full-time students and to those pursuing vocational development, there are a wide number of courses aimed primarily at part-time and recreational learners. The city council's Birmingham Adult Educational Service (BAES) offers around 4000 different courses each year at around 70 different centres in diverse subjects such as foreign languages, information technology, mathematics, literacy and various types of creative arts. Some courses allow the students to achieve qualifications such as GCSEs and A-levels. BAES also provides teaching in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for the many inhabitants of the city who do not speak English as a mother-tongue.
Similar courses are offered by many of the city's further education colleges, and various arts organisations such as the mac offer workshops in the creative arts. Experienced musicians from ground roots enterprises such as Punch Records in The Custard Factory host many 'Urban Workshops' for modern music including street-level DJ mixing tuition and dance.
- University of Birmingham (1900 by royal charter)
- Aston University (1966 by royal charter)
- Birmingham City University (1992)
- Newman University (2012)
- University College Birmingham (2012)
- The University of Law (2012, private teaching university)
Birmingham City University (BCU) in particular has a significant role in higher education in the arts in Birmingham. The Birmingham Conservatoire, now part of the university, was formed as the Birmingham School of Music in 1859 and formerly constituted in 1886. It is one of only nine conservatoires in the United Kingdom and the only one which is also a university faculty. The conservatoire has strong links with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra whose former conductor, Simon Rattle, is the conservatoire's president. The conservatoire is planning to move from their current location in Adrian Boult Hall to a site in the Eastside.
The Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), another faculty of BCU, is one of the largest faculties of art, design and media education in the United Kingdom. BIAD includes the Bournville Centre for Visual Arts, the Birmingham School of Art and the School of Jewellery (in the Jewellery Quarter), which highlights the importance of jewellery manufacture in the city.
Birmingham School of Acting, founded in 1936, is one of the United Kingdom's leading vocational drama schools, offering higher education courses in drama as well as a range of part-time, summer schools and short courses for adults and children. Its merger with BCU was announced in June 2005.
Elmhurst School for Dance is the oldest vocational dance school in the United Kingdom and offers dance training and academic education to pupils of secondary school age. The school was originally located in Camberley, Surrey but after becoming an associate school of the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2002, it relocated to Edgbaston in Birmingham in 2004.
The city council is also responsible for the provision of libraries throughout the city. There are 41 local libraries in addition to Birmingham Central Library, reputedly one of the largest public libraries in Europe. According to city council figures, Birmingham's library system has over 2.7 million books and receives over 4 million visitors each year.
- BBC News - Funding and management of schools in England
- Birmingham City Council - Which school?
- Higher Education Funding Council for England - West Midlands Regional Profile
- Birmingham Institute of Art & Design
- Birmingham Adult Education Service
- Birmingham City Council - About Birmingham Libraries