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The Stage Scholarships 2018: Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

Italia Conti students performing Italia Conti students performing

Featured in CBBC’s School for Stars, the college offers places worth £200,000, writes Lisa Martland

Ellie-Rose Eames, from Rochester in Kent, was among four winners given the opportunity to attend the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in The Stage Scholarships in 2017.

She says: “When I used to wake up for regular school I never used to want to go. I love it now, everyone is so supportive. Thanks to Italia Conti and The Stage for this chance, I promise to work really hard – and enjoy myself!”

Italia Conti’s dedication to the scheme has been demonstrated by how many talented individuals the academy has helped in recent years.

The value of the one full and two half-scholarships on offer in 2018 could rise to a total value of more than £200,000, depending on the age of the child joining the school (a full individual scholarship for a winner joining in Year 7 would be £64,875).

In recent years, Italia Conti has raised its profile as the school featured in the CBBC series School for Stars, but the academy is regarded as the oldest performing arts training school in the world (founded in 1911).

In the late 1960s, the running of the school transferred to the Sheward family, and Anne Sheward became principal in the 1980s. After 35 years, she stepped down in 2016, and her sister Samantha Newton took over.

Past students include Pixie Lott, Daniel Mays, Karen Gillan and Lesley Manville, not to mention rising stars including Layton Williams (Bad Education and the recent 20th-anniversary production of Rent) and John McCrea, currently playing the lead role in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at London’s Apollo Theatre.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie star John McCrea: ‘It’s fun to play a character so wildly different from you’

Scholarship winners attend the school, a modern, well-equipped building near London’s Barbican. They have the opportunity to work with a whole range of highly experienced teachers – sometimes up to 20 vocational tutors a week, many of whom are industry professionals.

Italia Conti students performing
Italia Conti students

The Italia Conti Agency allows pupils the chance to gain real professional experience in a wide range of film, TV and theatre roles. It’s also a boost for those young artists like the aforementioned Ellie-Rose, who already has a couple of West End credits to her name (Billy Elliot, Matilda the Musical) plus the 2018 movie Holmes and Watson starring Will Ferrell.

Equally important to the principal and staff at Italia Conti is creating an environment in which pupils are nurtured and encouraged – where every student is treated as an individual. Class sizes are kept small with an annual intake in 2017 of just under 30.

Newton says: “As a comparatively small faculty, we strive for and value the high levels of contact we can provide between students and staff.

“The role of our college is to help talented students harness their dedication to become communicative triple-threat artists, with the passion and understanding to reach within themselves to affect and move audiences.”

Alongside all the traditional subjects and theatre activities, Newton explains that the academy goes further with its ‘Life Skills’ programmes that focus on preparing pupils for life beyond the classroom.

She concludes: “Our greatest assets are the children we serve. Wherever we go and whoever visits our school, there is always one message that comes back to us: ‘Your children are exceptional.’”


Course: Theatre arts
Educational level: School age
Number of scholarships offered: One full and two half-scholarships
Value of scholarship: £95,000-plus (depends on the age of the child joining the school; a full individual scholarship for a winner joining in Year 7 would be £64,875)
What costs are covered? Fees
Location: Goswell Road, London EC1
Audition date and details: February 16 (audition fee is £40). Applicants are required to prepare one poem or acting piece, one piece of dance in any style and one song or a combined song and dance piece – all music for the individual pieces must be on an iPod or iPhone. The candidates will also take part in group dance classes. There will also be an academic test in English and Maths.

How do I apply? Applicants should visit the website – italiaconti.com – and download an application form or telephone 0207 608 0044. The deadline for applications is February 9. The application form requires a passport-sized and full-length photograph together with a copy of the latest school report.

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