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Welcome to PQA York

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Hello and welcome to PQA York. We opened our doors for the very first time on Saturday 5th October 2013 within the fantastic facilities at Huntington School in York. The school's black box drama studio, sprung floor dance studio, large classrooms and multiple performance and filming spaces play host to our very popular main academy (6-18 year olds), and our fantastic Poppets academy (4-5 year olds).

As Principal of the Academy, I am extremely passionate about providing high quality, professional and up-to-date performing arts tuition, as well as offering the opportunity for young people to build confidence, learn life skills and make new friends. At PQA York, we ensure all of this takes place in a fun, safe and happy environment.

Our superb team of teaching staff, who are all experts in their field, provide classes in Musical Theatre, Comedy & Drama and Film & Television for 6-18 year olds, and our Poppets Academy, dedicated to providing multi-disciplinary lessons for 4-5 year olds. Every member of staff at PQA York are hugely dedicated to inspiring, engaging and motivating the young people who come to the academy, whether they want to simply gain confidence and make new friends, or whether they wish to go further into a career in the performing arts.

As well as these fun-packed, unique and exciting lessons, the students at PQA York have many other fantastic opportunities to look forward to. Masterclasses from West End professionals, stage combat experts, magicians and stage makeup artists (to name but a few!) will further the students' experience at PQA. Our students will also have the opportunity to perform in showcases both at our Academy Venue and externally, perform in London's West End, have their very own film premiere in a York cinema, join our professional agency 'Quirky Kidz', and take part in free Trinity Group exams.

We'd love to meet you and show you around our Academy, so why not get in touch and come along and see us? For more information or to arrange free taster session, please call James on 07753 179070 or email him at

We can't wait to see you!

James Aconley
07753 179070

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Meet the Team

James Aconley


James Aconley - Principal

Hello, my name is James and I am delighted to be the Principal of PQA York.

My passion for the performing arts and my determination to ensure the best possible tuition whilst ensuring my students are having great fun ensures that PQA York really is the place to be.

I have a wealth of experience in both performance work as well as teaching and facilitating projects. I have taught both singing and drama for a number of youth theatres and theatre schools, as well as providing theatre and music workshops for community groups including young people with learning disabilities, people who have experienced drug and alcohol abuse, residents in a women's prison and secondary school students at risk of becoming NEET. I have also provided drama workshops for secondary school students as an extra-curricular activity, teaching performance skills whilst leading to end of term performances for parents.

My teaching and facilitation experience brought together by the knowledge and expertise of my teachers ensures a fantastic journey for the students of PQA York. This is further complemented by the modern, exciting and inspiring modules and opportunities provided by PQA. As well as being the Principal of PQA York, I am also the Principal of PQA Scarborough which operates on a Sunday morning. PQA York is operated from the superb facilities at Huntington School in York.

In my performance projects I have worked in many aspects of the entertainment industry including summer seasons, variety, pantomime, musicals, cabaret and performing live in concert. One major highlight of my career so far was performing at The Club for Acts and Actors (formerly The Concert Artistes Association) in London's West End in October 2007.

I have also produced and directed, as well as appeared in, my own theatre shows since 2009. These productions have been resident shows in theatres, touring theatre shows visiting venues throughout Yorkshire, and, most recently, summer seasons at Europe's largest Open Air Theatre. I also have my own solo cabaret show that I perform in hotels and restaurants, as well as at private functions and events.

I'm also proud to have been awarded a First Class BA (Hons) Theatre degree from York St John University.

I am so proud of this exciting opportunity to apply all my skills and experience to pass on my knowledge, by leading my team of talented, professional and energetic teachers, to develop young people and their skills for everyday life, self-confidence and to grow as individuals – as well as having great fun!


Vice Principal / Film & Television

Andy - Vice Principal / Film & Television

Hello, my name is Andy and I am delighted to be the Film & Television teacher at PQA York.

In this module, you will be exploring many ways to act, direct, film, edit and star in your very own short films using our professional equipment. We'll be making many different genres of film – from silent movies and pop videos to short films, documentaries and 'mini-features.' Although we use the Film and Television room as a 'base of operations', I am always encouraging and enthusiastic about shooting on location and spending as little time as possible in the classroom itself. The team at PQA York are also really excited about the 'red carpet' film premiere events we'll be holding, showing lots of the student work.

I have been accumulating knowledge and experience on Film and TV for a number of years whilst also gathering the skills needed to teach and inspire others. My passion for this led me to Northumbria University where I recently completed my BA (Hons) Film & Television Studies degree. This course has had a huge impact on my understanding of the Film & Television medium whilst also furthering my passion for the subject.

I have produced a number of short films with a number of different groups and companies. Within each film I have taken on a number of roles including writer, director, editor and, in some cases, being in front of the camera!

I have also had experience in theatre and the performing arts, appearing in many productions in North Yorkshire, whilst also helping to direct. This has given me a broad spectrum of knowledge applicable to the Film and TV module and teaching and developing the skills and abilities of different groups of young people.

I am always really excited to teach this very unique module at PQA York and applying all my knowledge and passion for the subject to help instruct, inspire and influence the group, while at the same time helping them develop skills applicable to everyday life. Film & Television is a module so vast that it incorporates the development of many different skills; from technical ability with the equipment itself, acting and safety of the crew whilst on a shoot.

I look forward to continuing to make PQA York a fun experience and a fantastic opportunity every single weekend whilst also witnessing the development, growth and increased enjoyment of all our students at the academy!


Musical Theatre

Rocky - Musical Theatre

I work professionally and passionately as an actor, singer and dancer in film, musical theatre and contemporary theatre (credits including White Rose Theatre, Proper Job, Gobbledigook, Parashoots and Park Bench Poets).

I attended Bodywork Theatre School throughout my childhood, excited by and exploring many different genres of performance including classical and contemporary Ballet and Jazz, Tap and Musical Theatre. I have never lost the enjoyment in learning different and new ways to perform and use my body, so I have over the years collected and developed other skills such as ballroom, circus skills, acro-balance, and biomechanics.

In 2008 I completed a BA (Hons) in Performance Theatre at York St. John University where I specialised in collaborative devised work and theatre-making. I then went on in 2010 to complete an MA in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance at York University looking at more classical their styles.

2010 also saw the launch of Six Lips Theatre, an experimental contemporary theatre company, of which I am one of three artistic directors and founders. We regularly perform our work at theatre's and festivals, all over the UK.

I love working with different community groups and have been teaching dance, drama singing and musical theatre for over 10 years all over the North, with young people and adults of varying needs and abilities, with performing arts academies, youth theatres and charities including Kirkham Henry, Derwent Danceworks, Duck Egg Theatre Company, Upstage Centre Youth Theatre and York Mind.

I am a member of the NATD and train students for Arts Award, LAMDA, IDTA and Trinity exams.


Comedy & Drama

Kirsty - Comedy & Drama

Hello everyone!

My name is Kirsty and I am incredibly excited to be teaching Comedy & Drama at PQA York.

I can't wait to watch the students as they develop in confidence and life skills when rehearsing and making performances they will be proud to show their families and friends.

I spent every weekend, every evening and every school holiday from the age of eleven at drama and performing arts classes which is where I made brilliant friends, grew in confidence and where my passion for Comedy & Drama began. At the age of sixteen I went to further my training with the National Youth Theatre . Here I worked with some excellent companies including Trestle and Complicite and went on to perform with Complicite at Battersea Power Station and Mill Bank Studios London.

I am also proud to have achieved a first class degree in Performance Practice from York St John University. Whilst here I was a founding member of at least for now theatre, and worked with many children and young adults on theatre and performance projects.

As well as my training I have performed in many stage shows across the country including Fireball XL5 as part of Love Arts Festival York, Smocks and Socks as part of Create15 Festival and at The East Riding Theatre Beverley. I have also worked with Chicago based theatre company Atom-R and toured a production of the Wakefield Mystery Plays with PR Promotions, later recorded for BBC Radio Derby and BBC Radio 4. I have worked with The National Youth Theatre and Complicite on their production of S'warm. Productions for Derby Theatre include; Cranford The Musical, Lady with a Lamp and Squeakers. I have also appeared in a few short films which include 'The Stadium Arts Project' and the title role Rose in 'Rose Petal'.

Behind the scenes I have worked for Atomic Force Productions and Something For The Weekend. Working for these comedy companies has given me the insight and experience into knowing what logistically goes into being a comedy performer.

I have spent the last year at Yorks Chocolate Story developing and facilitating the schools workshop programme, working with up to 100 children at one time from the ages of 6-18, having great fun creating and delivering activities whilst getting to work with and eat lots of chocolate!

Finally I can't wait to meet all my PQA students and to pass on my skills, knowledge and experience to the next generation of performers!



Sara - Poppets

Hello there – my name is Sara and I am delighted to be teaching the Poppets at PQA York.

I have worked with children in their early years for over 6 years, and enjoy seeing children develop their performance skills in singing, dancing and acting, whilst seeing their confidence grow.

Itrained for two years at Sylvia Young Theatre School in London and a further three years at the London Studio Centre.

My first professional job was with Bill Kenwright's Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, touring the country as a singer dancer.

I have had a wide and varied experience performing in many productions including Aladdin in Weston Super Mare, summer seasons in Great Yarmouth and Scarborough, tours with British Stage Productions and pantomines at Scarborough Spa Theatre. I have also worked as a solo singer and entertainment host for Shearings Hotels.

I am excited to pass on my experience and performance knowledge to the Poppets at PQA York every Saturday morning!


Teaching Assistant

Georgie - Teaching Assistant

Hello! My name is Georgie and I am so thrilled to be part of the team at PQA York.

I have always had a passion for theatre, starting from when I got the main part in the Christmas play in year six! Since then I went on to join a performing arts school and this is where my interest in gaining a career in the arts began! Being part of a drama school gave me so many performing arts opportunities, and I can really see the value of part time performing arts training for young people. I have worked as part of an outdoor theatre company at Stockheld Park in Wetherby, and also performed at the ICC in Birmingham in a production of 'Cats'. I was also often involved in many choir competitions at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

I have trained at Chatsworth Dance Centre in Harrogate since I was 3, my main classes being Ballet, Contemporary dance and Tap. As a result of this I now teach at Ripon Dance Academy, mainly teaching Ballet and Tap to 3-10 year olds. I have also been involved in dance shows at the Royal Hall and The International Centre in Harrogate.
Currently I am studying for my degree in Contemporary Theatre at York St John University, and hope to carry on with my Masters in Applied Theatre.

I am looking forward to working with PQA York and to pass on my experiences and skills to others!


Academy Supervisor AM & Teaching Assistant PM

Katy - Academy Supervisor AM & Teaching Assistant PM

Hello, my name is Katy and I am overjoyed to be the Academy Supervisor for PQA York AM and a Teaching Assistant for PQA York PM.

I have had a passion and love for performing from a very young age. I started performing in front of audiences at the age of 9 and have never looked back. I have been an active member of many dance and theatre schools in Scarborough, developing skills in drama, dancing and singing. Throughout these years I have been involved in musicals, 6 week summer seasons, pantomimes, variety shows, charity events and devised showcases. I gained a huge amount of confidence and wanted to pursue a career in the Performing Arts Industry because of this.

I was the lead singer in a band called 'Mook!'. We performed in pubs around North Yorkshire and sang at Acomb Music Festival. Following on from this, I have been a solo singer for the past year and have sang at weddings and sang with various local artists in and around York.

I am currently studying BA (Hons) Drama: Education and Community at York St John University. I have enhanced my skills in devising, facilitating workshops to groups of young people and working with a local theatre company. In doing this I have gained experience not only in drama and music but in directing, stage management, costume, writing and story-telling.

I am really looking forward to help build the confidence and work with the students at PQA!


Academy Supervisor

Ethan - Academy Supervisor

Hi, my name is Ethan and I am delighted to be the Academy Supervisor for PQA York.

I have spent many years training within the Musical Theatre industry. I spent 4 years full time at Arabesque School of Performing Arts, based in Chichester, and an extra 2 years part time. I reached a high level of training and exams for Ballet, Tap, Modern and Singing, LAMDA exams and working in Film and TV. I've also had the pleasure of working and training in the West End, as well as local Pantomimes and Operatic Societies and Youth Theatres.

After my time at Arabesque, I went on a studied 2 years of Music Technology which then led me to working with record companies and songwriters such as EMI. After training in music technology, I moved to Bristol to do further training in Musical Theatre at New Generation Music (NGM) for a year. During that time period, I was cast in the musical 'Luv Esther' that toured the country.

After the tour, I moved back to my hometown of Bognor Regis, where I started up a community choir. I then got involved in starting up Saturday stage schools. Regularly I would get invited to go into local secondary schools and run Musical Theatre workshops. I got heavily in running local youth groups as well, which saw me in 2012 being elected as a 'Future Flame' for the London Olympics, which I still see as one of my biggest achievements.

As well as being on the stage, I have spent a lot of time co-directing and choreographing shows for local community projects as well as theatre shows. I have also become experienced in technical theatre too.

I am now about to start my second year at University of Hull studying Music (BMus). Last year I was cast as Bobby Strong in the University's production of 'UrineTown' and this new academic year will see me start my new role as President of the Performing Arts Society (HUPAS).

I am excited to be part of the PQA team and bring my love and enthusiasm for the Performing Arts industry with me.


Teaching Assistant

Casey - Teaching Assistant

Hi, I'm Casey and I'm so excited to be part of the team at PQA York.

I am extremely eager to help create work with young people who love Performing Arts as much as I do. For as long as I can remember I have been inspired by theatre. Going to a High School that specialised in Performing Arts gave me fantastic opportunities to express myself in many different aspects of the Arts; from dance, drama, and singing classes to participating in many of my schools musical theatre productions such as 'Into the Woods' and 'The Wiz'.

My love for performing only grew as a teenager when I joined First Floor. I was given the opportunity to perform in shows I had helped to create at The West Yorkshire Playhouse. In 2009 I was fortunate enough to win the Leeds Young Authors poetry competition – this enabled me to travel and perform in Los Angeles as a member of 'PeaceJam' which focuses on engaging adults and young people in local and global communities. This experience allowed me to improve my confidence in many different aspects of performance.

I am currently in my third year studying Theatre at York St John University where I have been able to vastly develop my skills in performance and facilitation projects such as co-facilitating drama workshops in a female prison, to working with young people with learning disabilities on a weekly basis.

I can't wait to begin working with the students at the Pauline Quirke Academy every Saturday!


Teaching Assistant

Rhea - Teaching Assistant

Hello, my name is Rhea and I'm so excited to be part of the team at PQA York!

Musical Theatre is my biggest passion and I have been performing since I was really young. I started dancing at the age of eight and did my first show aged nine. Since then I have performed at many shows in York and Scarborough where I have developed my skills in acting, singing and dancing.

I studied Musical Theatre at college where I enhanced my skills. One of my highlights was playing Sally Bowles in our final show 'Cabaret'. During this time, I also passed my ABRSM singing exams, which helped to further my experience in Classical music and Musical Theatre.

Filmmaking is also a huge interest of mine and in 2011 I came third in Leeds' Young People's Film Festival. I learnt so much from this experience and had so much fun taking part.

I'm currently studying Psychology at University, where I hope to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist working with young people.

I'm really looking forward to working with the Pauline Quirke Academy in York and to share my experience and love of Musical Theatre with others.

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Saturdays 09.45 - 13.00 & 13.45 - 17.00
Poppets 09.45 - 11.30 & 13.45 - 15.30

Huntington School
Huntington Road
YO32 9WT 

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