A former factory in West London has been officially opened as an academy by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of their ‘Heads Together’ mental health initiative.
The Global Academy in Hayes is for 14 to 19-year-old pupils and was founded and sponsored by media business, Global, to prepare students for careers in the broadcast and digital media industry.
Opened last year, the state school started with 163 students but will be teaching 800 young people a year by 2020. Although its focus will be on routes into the media, the Global Academy gives students the practical and technical skills they need to succeed in the real world. This includes encouraging young people to talk about any mental wellbeing issues they may be facing.
During the visit, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry visited the Heart and LBC breakfast shows to see live outside broadcasts in action and meet Global Academy students who were helping to produce the shows as part of their coursework.
They also visited classrooms where students were learning about the science of sound, working on a mental wellbeing project and an audio project using material from EMI’s archives, including vinyl recordings of early speeches of the Royal Family.
Speaking at the launch, founder of Global and the Global Academy, Ashley Tabor, said that although the media is one of the most desirable and successful areas of the UK economy, it is facing a skills shortage and a real lack of diversity.
The Academy is therefore aimed at growing a pool of people coming into the industry. He added that mental wellbeing is at the heart of their culture and will be recognised and accommodated just like physical wellbeing. This is why he involved the charity, as Heads Together also aims to end the stigma of mental illness.
There are now 3,304 academies in England – almost 15 times as many as in May 2010