One of Bradford’s most esteemed schools is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016 with a performing arts extravaganza on 12 March 2016 at St George’s Hall in Bradford. Dixons City Academy was founded in 1990 by Sir John Lewis and now Shirley Watson drives Dixons forward, aiming to become one of the top schools in – not just Bradford – the country. As part of their 25th anniversary, we spoke to Shirley to learn more about the concert and the history of Dixons.

First of all congratulations, could you tell us some information about the concert and what it’s about?
The concert is about celebrating our brilliant past and also everything the school is today. We’re really proud of our students past and present. Current students have a great sense of being part of something bigger than them, a harmonious and diverse community with a 25-year history. Our former students have gone on to make a positive contribution to society as a whole and that gives us all a great sense of achievement. We really love hearing about their successes and life stories and hopefully this event will bring us back in touch with even more former students. Our current students will love having the opportunity to perform with past students, many of whom have gone on to a career in the performing arts.  

25 years of bringing together students of different diversities in harmony is a special achievement, what do you think is Dixons’ most memorable moment or achievement and why?
First and foremost we have to be proud of our history of strong academic achievement, that’s our core purpose. Beyond that however Dixons has always been about the education and development of the whole person. We want our students to achieve academic success and personal happiness and I feel that has been our success over the past 25 years. We have a strong moral purpose to make a difference to the lives of young people who then go out to change the world for the better. Dixons City has always been a special place. We’re really proud to see our name above eight other schools across the city. We are the second most over-subscribed school in the country and the opportunity to provide a Dixons education to more children has been great.

Dixons has always prevailed when it comes to music and the performing arts, how special is it that you get a chance to showcase that in one of Bradford’s most iconic halls?
We’re genuinely excited about the event at St George’s Hall. We really hope that it brings together former students and parents from all year groups and communities, and current students too. We’ve had a great response so far.

What do you think makes Dixons’ musical heritage so rich and well defined?
Music has always been a big part of our ethos. We have always valued academic achievement and also extra-curricular achievement and it’s of no surprise that students who master performance go on to achieve well in other subjects. The music department has always demanded the highest standards from all ensembles and I believe the sense of personal pride that students gain from being involved in brilliant performances greatly enhances their enjoyment of school. Students have always enjoyed the friendships they make through involvement in performing arts. Over the years our students have made friends for life with others from across the year groups. The key to the success of our music department is the drive and commitment of all our music teachers, ably led by Mrs Rafnsson and Mrs Lowther. The great thing is that many of our music teachers are either former students or long-standing members of staff who care deeply about the school and its ongoing success. We’re also very fortunate to have highly skilled technical support and it is this that gives our concerts such a professional feel.

Do Dixons have any other plans to celebrate their 25th year of education?
This is our main celebration event. I know the first-year group (1990) are looking to hold a reunion event and we have offered them the opportunity to hold the event in school. In school at the beginning of the year we had a 1990 theme in lessons and we served the original menu from the first week, at the same price. Staff had a celebration meal. One year group are working on a time capsule that they’re going to bury for the students of 2030 to dig up and we are currently planning a 25 year photo with all the students and staff. The aim is to take an aerial photo using a drone and we’ll put it up on the main wall in the mall to capture our silver jubilee. We’re currently compiling a celebration newsletter and we’ve asked for ex-students to send in happy memories or photos to include.  

Can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect from the concert?
We’re working on the concert programme now and from what I have seen so far it’s going to be really varied with a real balance of musical and vocal pieces. Pulling together the ex-student performance will be a challenge, particularly if there’s no rehearsal time!   

Finally, how can people get involved?
Anyone who wants to help out backstage or be involved in the cross-years ensembles should contact our Head of Performing Arts Mrs Rafnsson. Any memories should be emailed to Miss Priestley, Principal’s PA at

For further information about Dixons City Academy visit

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