Students are benefitting from a revolutionary new partnership between Walsall Studio School and Big Centre TV – the local TV service for Birmingham, The Black Country and Solihull.

Big Centre TV is co-located within the school and sees the station having use of the school’s media studio, a presentation suite, as well as a 400-seat auditorium. The station – which launches on February 28 – also has access to broadcast cameras and a TriCaster production facility, which uses green screen to insert ‘virtual studio’ backgrounds, for news and current affairs programmes broadcast live form the school each day.
Students at the studio school gain work experience at the TV station and its connected production companies as well as the integration of TV broadcasting into the vocational programmes at the school.

From February 2015 onwards Big Centre TV will broadcast to millions of viewers from Walsall Studio School – based in the Goldmine Centre – and will see more than 30 students involved with the station as part of their studies.

Peter Stack, creative director and head of Sixth Form at Walsall Studio School, said students will benefit from the new partnership. “Our philosophy is to bring the place of work to the school,” he said. “This partnership will allow us to create an education and training programme, that will eventually give students an incredible opportunity to participate in a wide range of roles within Big Centre TV – from presenting to production.”

Dan Parkes, the school’s principal, added: “This is a huge opportunity for our students to be engaged with such an exciting project. “It will provide invaluable practical experience and give them a competitive advantage as they enter their future careers in business and the creative industries.”

Kevin Davis, Chair of Governors and CEO of the Vine Trust Group – which run the Goldmine Centre – said the move was “great news for Walsall” and “a real coup” for the St Matthew’s Quarter. “I am encouraged that the inward investment and job creation, will add to its credentials as a creative work, live, play and learn centre,” he said.

Big Centre TV covers Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull, providing an estimated 2.3 million viewers with a mix of local and national news, current affairs and magazine shows, alongside comedy, music and light entertainment, children’s content, shopping and other commercially-led programmes.  The station will broadcast seven days a week on Freeview channel 8 and Virgin Media channel 159 with programmes also available online.

Chris Perry, channel director at Big Centre TV, said: “We are extremely fortunate to partner with Walsall Studio School, which has some of the best people, production and broadcast facilities. “As a professional media company we have big ambitions and these can only be met through having access to outstanding facilities and talent, which is exactly what Walsall Studio School provide.”

The recent official opening of the station saw students from the studio school working alongside broadcast professionals, hosting visitors to the centre and performing on stage before the Mayor of Walsall cut the ribbon and Big Centre TV was declared officially open!

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