No school rivals Sylvia Young’s connections with West End shows, and with The Stage Scholarships, you could train there free of charge, says Paul Vale
Students from the Sylvia Young Theatre School have long enjoyed regular involvement in the West End. In the biggest shows currently on offer, its students aged between 10 and 16 have recently appeared in School of Rock, Aladdin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Matilda the Musical, The Lion King, and Les Miserables. Others have performed in films such as Mary Poppins Returns, Dunkirk, Beauty and the Beast and Tomb Raider.
Sylvia Young founded the school in 1972. Over a 25-year period, Young and The Stage Scholarships have helped more than 70 children pursue a career in the performing arts.
On offer this year is a full scholarship (worth up to £70,000) and the chance to join an unrivalled line-up of former students who have gone on to success in all areas of the performing arts.
They include Billie Piper, Samantha Womack, Preeya Kalidas, Clare Burt, Rita Ora, Frances Ruffelle, Nicholas Hoult and members of bands such as Busted, McFly, the Wanted and the Saturdays.
The 2017 scholarship winner was Nicholas Antoniou-Tibbitts , age 12, from Saffron Walden in Essex. He had already gained experience in the West End, performing the role of Eric in Matilda the Musical, and now his scholarship will enable him to attend the school on a full-time basis for the next five years.
“I fell in love with the school after doing a half-term course, but I knew the only way I could go was to get a scholarship. It has made a huge difference. I am really grateful to Sylvia Young and The Stage. I feel so proud they have recognised the potential in me,” he says.
Nicholas was between matinee and evening performances of the show when he got the call from Sylvia Young, telling him that he’d been awarded both a place and the scholarship. “I couldn’t believe it – I was thrilled.”
Alongside his fellow students, Nicholas will follow the school’s academic and vocational curriculum up to the age of 16 at its premises in central London, not far from Marble Arch underground station. The school is non-denomination and co-educational, with a student body of about 250. The school has also recently been recognised for achieving higher results than the national average at GCSE level.
Young takes pride in the school’s first-class teaching and the way the staff members ensure pupils’ feet stay on the ground, whatever roles they might be playing in theatre, film and TV.
This is achieved by encouraging a commitment to hard work and SYTS’ weekly schedule of three days of academic work and two days’ vocational training.
So what is Young looking for in possible scholarship winners for 2018?
“We are looking for potential in at least one of the vocational areas – singing, dance or drama – and we are also looking for students who would really benefit and develop in their time here,” she explains. “We are looking for talented children but we don’t expect you to be a triple threat at this stage. Competition is tight.”
Course: Performing arts
Educational level: School age
Number of scholarships offered: One full scholarship
Value of scholarship: More than £40,000
What costs are covered? Fees
Where is the school? Central London
Audition dates: March 4, 18 and 21
Audition details: Applicants will be grouped according to age for workshop sessions in all three vocational subjects: drama, singing and dance. After the workshop audition, selected applicants will be invited back to attend a recall or final audition, when they will be asked to perform their individual pieces to an invited guest panel. Scholarship auditions are for students entering school years 7 and 8.
How to apply: Register online by February 18: regonline.co.uk/sytsbursaries2018 
Applicants need to complete a detailed online registration form. All correspondence will be sent via email. A registration payment of £15 per applicant is required during the online registration process.