After the recent open event at BOA Stage & Screen Production Academy, I’ve caught up with Mr. Michael Painter the principal of this college to reflect upon the evening, this college and his own life.


So what interesting facts will we learn about Principal Painter in this exclusive interview? After all, it’s not everyday that you get to know the leader of such a young college which is already known for its engaging and artistic curriculum…


Me: Hello Michael Painter, may I please, for the first question, ask you your opinions of the success of the BOA Stage and Screen open evening on the 2nd of November? 


Michael: The way I would measure the success of that event was all about:  a) – whether I could get prospective students and parents in the door, and b) – whether they left feeling impressed with the academy and the students within in it. Whether they left convinced that there are careers for young people in our stage and screen industries in the region. In the end, I know that unless I can convince parents and young people of that, they're not going to come and study here. Ultimately, our mission is to get young people ready to go into these industries, where frankly, there is a talent crisis at the moment. Well, we actually had over 190 families sign up in advance to say they were going to come to the open evening. I printed 250 maps at the beginning of the night and, by the end of the evening, we had just over 100 left. So I know that at least 150 young people wanting to study here came to the academy. As far as I’m concerned, numbers-wise, that is a massive win –  because we only have 200 places available and this is the first open day of the year, so that was really positive. 


The feedback from parents was also outstanding. We knew they'd like the facilities. It's a new building good kit in it. But what was really impressive was how they spoke about the students here. Firstly, they were impressed with how much the students already knew and how professional and grown-up they were, but secondly, how all the students really seemed to want to be here. And that’s brilliant because aside from all my targets and everything, the most important thing to me is to create an environment where young people enjoy learning. The feedback tells me that’s what we’ve done. 



Me: I see. And personally, what was your journey to becoming the principal of this college? How did you get into teaching first and what lead you to get to this stage?


Michael: Oh wow… my journey – so I did a degree in entertainment technologies where we studied a combination of everything from broadcasting to live production, to music and music technology, website creation and events management. It was really fun actually. It was done in Portsmouth. I learnt a lot – but one of the things it didn’t do for me was open up the doors into the industry. 

In my second year of study, like everyone, I was looking to make some money on the side.  Because I played the guitar and was a songwriter in lots of bands, I was running an open mic night in a local pub. A guy came in and did a little performance – he was very good – and then said to me, “could you do this at my school?” He was a schoolteacher. So I then went into this secondary school and ran an after-school music club for two days a week for the two years that I was continuing my studies. And I loved that so much that by the end of my degree, I decided to go into teaching and do a post-graduate degree. So I moved to Plymouth – did my year of teacher training, and then did some fantastic stuff! I went to Prague and Czechoslovakia and looked at their education systems and learnt lots of things about that. I also lived with my band, created albums, went touring and did lots of production work. I moved into my first teaching job in 2006, where I was a music and theatre technician, and also a part-time teacher. I was lucky to work for an amazing mentor Collin Seddon who works at Plymouth City College. He was a fantastic music teacher, and created an exceptional modern music course. I then got my first full-time teaching job in 2008 at Stafford College, where I basically took all the things I learnt form Collin and created a course at Stafford in music and music technology. That was really, really successful.

Shortly after, I moved back into teaching media.Over the coming years I was promoted several times at Stafford College.  I was a teacher; then course leader; then I was the faculty manager; then head of faculty – which involved looking after all the creative industries, courses and the buildings. 

I applied for a job at BOA (Birmingham Ormiston Academy) in 2016 and then moved over there as Assistant Principal, looking after broadcast, creative arts and music across the school until 2019 where I then got a job working across BOA Group. My role was to take all my knowledge and understanding of the technical side of all these areas, and the performance side (because I’ve always been a performer as well) and then help design this new academy. I literally designed how the new school will be built; the equipment, and the curriculum that we teach.

Through that process I fell in love with this school – BOA Stage and Screen Production Academy. This was my passion project. I worked with a fantastic man called Dr. Steve Ball, (our original founding principal) who is very well known in the city for his work in performance arts, designing the curriculum in the year before this place opened. And when he retired, the opportunity came up to apply to be the principal here – and I applied for it, and got the job, which was last June. I’ve only been the principal for a very short amount of time, but I’ve been involved with this project since 2016; I would say it feels like it’s been a long journey, but it’s brilliant. We’re very proud of it and the students especially.


Me: I appreciate your honesty. And one last question: could you please surmise in five words how BOA Stage and Screen College is unique compared to other colleges?


Michael: Okay, so… industry lead (that’s two)… exceptional outcomes… fun!


Me: Mr. Painter, it’s been a pleasure – thank you!


Michael: Thank you!


And I’m sure we all wish Principal Michael Painter – the musically talented and jack-of-all-trades media expert – an exceptionally bright future continuing as head of this prodigious and young college as it continues to grow and thrive.