City of Norwich School

CNS partnership with Guildhall School of Music & Drama receives national acclaim

School honoured in national celebration of teaching


Selected from thousands of nominations, City of Norwich School has been awarded Pearson’s prestigious Silver Award for “Impact Through Partnership”, recognising the transformative work and opportunities the school has delivered to students through its ongoing relationship with Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.

The school was presented with the Silver Pearson National Teaching Award trophy on Wednesday evening (16 September) at a virtual event at the school to celebrate its outstanding achievement, and is one of just 76 silver award winners across the country.

CNS first began its partnership with Guildhall School as a result of shared values in the importance of the arts, culture, and ensuring all young people have the access and opportunities to experiences that help shape their future.

Following the launch of the partnership in 2013, the duo has since co-founded the popular Norfolk Centre for Young Musicians and has enabled hundreds of children at the school, and in the region more broadly, to access and be inspired by musicianship, drama and technical theatre. Of that number, 19 have gone on to study music at conservatoires and 5 to higher education music courses: 80% of those are state school students and 10 are from CNS. The partnership with Guildhall School enables CNS students to work with Guildhall students  three times a year, in various ways. This includes having the opportunity to watch live music in genres that are often new experiences for students, such as classical guitar, brass and wind quartets through to individual tutorials, small group rehearsals, masterclasses and composition workshops.

In a commitment to ensure the partnership reaches as many children and young people, a great deal of time is also dedicated to support local junior schools and other secondary schools to have access to the musical opportunities through the partnership. This has included young people travelling across the county to work alongside CNS on Samba Days, brass workshops and other events.

Music scholarships provided as part of the partnership also enable future affordable access to music instruction for all students, regardless of background, which is reflective of CNS’ and its sponsor, Ormiston Academies Trust’s, commitment to creative an inclusive school which aims to broaden horizons, raise aspirations and foster partnerships with play a leading role in the wider community.

Following this week’s success, CNS is now in the running for one of just 14 Gold Awards later in the year, in a programme which will be broadcast on the BBC. The event will provide an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional school staff who have worked wonders during an incredibly challenging time for educators across the country.

Commenting on the achievement, Headteacher Jo Philpott said:

“It is an honour to have been awarded this prestigious national award and we are so pleased that the impact of our partnership with Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the opportunities we have been able to provide to thousands of young people has been recognised in this way.

“We have worked very hard to ensure that our partnership reaches as many young people as possible, not just at CNS but across the county. Broadening a student’s horizon to include experiences of music from all over the world and to develop a love for arts and culture is central to this partnership and it is one that has generated a huge range of positive benefits for our students, not least in learning a new musical instrument but in the opportunities and skills that have been able to develop.

“A huge thank you to James Sunderland, Nikki Shepperd and Juliet Rickard in particular for all their work in ensuring that this partnership is as successful and impactful as possible. We look forward to continuing to watch the partnership develop and grow, with many more ambitious projects in the pipeline.”

Nick Hudson, Chief Executive Officer of Ormiston Academies Trust, said: 

“CNS has for a long time now really led the way in the musical and cultural opportunities that it provides to its students, helping to raise aspirations and broaden horizons not just for its own students but also for children and young people in the local community.

“We have had the pleasure of watching numerous musical performances from CNS students at various Ormiston events over the years and the sheer talent, passion and love they have for the arts really shines through.

“We are incredibly proud of this achievement for CNS, which is hugely well deserved. Congratulations to everyone involved!”

Alison Mears, Director of Guildhall Young Artists said:

“We are thrilled our partners City of Norwich School (CNS) have received this richly deserved accolade recognising their sustained commitment in placing creativity and the arts at the centre of education. 

"Guildhall School of Music & Drama has worked for seven years with the outstanding team at CNS, and the wider Norfolk Music Education Hub, to develop a thriving centre as part of our young artists programme; our joint mission to offer high quality music and creative training opportunities for pupils of all backgrounds. Norwich is particularly special as the joint-vision established here became the blue-print for Guildhall School’s growing network of centres across the country which now engages over 1,500 young people in regular training across the UK.

"We’d particularly like to pay tribute to the sustained enthusiasm, passion and hands-on support Principal Jo Philpott and Head of Music James Sunderland have given together Nikki Shepperd, Juliet Rickard and all the team at NCYM for their vision and energy which has made this partnership such a success. The partnership has been quick to respond to evolving changes and the creative work that continued during lockdown provided a crucial lifeline many young people.

"We look forward to continuing to diversify our offer to help more young people find their creative voice and can’t wait to continue the journey.”