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Rockschool¡¯s revolution in music education wins Queen¡¯s Award for Enterprise


Rockschool, the revolutionary music exam board wins the Queen¡¯s Award for Enterprise - International Trade, for Outstanding Growth in international sales.


 United Kingdom, April 2018


The company, which is the world¡¯s first rock and pop music exam board, has today been awarded the Queen¡¯s Awards for Enterprise. This prestigious award is a recognised Royal endorsement reflecting the success of Rockschool¡¯s international development.


The company was founded by Chairman Norton York in 1991 in West London. Music graduate Norton York spent his teens playing in bands and felt pop music was ignored in mainstream music education, despite leading the world in innovation, creativity and profitability. He wanted young musicians who played drums, electric guitars and keyboards to be able to take exams and mark their achievements in the same way as their classical contemporaries. Rockschool now conducts rock & pop exams in over 45 countries around the world from Australia to Mexico and China. Over 400,000 aspiring musicians have already taken Rockschool exams. Famous alumni include 'Ed Sheeran', 'Jess Glynne' and emerging talent like 'Let¡¯s Eat Grandma¡¯.


¡°Nurturing musical talent has been at the forefront of the company¡¯s endeavours from the very beginning. This is not only paying dividends for our candidates and Rockschool as a company, but the wider success of UK music as an international export.¡±

John Simpson, Rockschool¡¯s Chief Executive Officer


As rock and pop music has come of age, Rockschool¡¯s revolutionary graded exam music system is recognised throughout the UK for transforming music education. The business went global over 10 years ago and as well as examining in over 45 countries, now has subsidiaries in China, India and Spain, and continues to change the way pop music is taught across the globe. It is now accepted as the global benchmark for contemporary music.


Not only do a few special Rockschool candidates go onto become global superstars, the qualifications also lead to full-time jobs working in the creative industries like stage crew, sound engineers, producers, and managers. These students find jobs putting on music events and live shows which are the envy of the world. 


" Since we started Rockschool in 1991 we pioneered pop and rock music education - from our world firsts in establishing guitar, bass and drums grade exams to our vocational qualifications which have been taken by world beating artists and our most recent innovation in music production exams, Rockschool has always led the way in British music education. I am so proud and honoured that  our achievements in the past few years in establishing our exams as a global leader in our field in more than 40 countries has been recognised with this Queen's Award. Thank you to our staff and to all the young musicians who have come on this journey with us."

Norton York, Founder & Chairman RSL Awards (Rockschool ltd)


The export value of the UK Creative Industries is estimated at £19.8 billion or 9% of total export services. It is growing at 10.9% a year and accounts for 1.9 million jobs in the UK*. Rockschool is a rising star in this burgeoning export market and this performance has been recognised today with the granting of The Queens Award for Enterprise ¨C International Trade



RSL Awards ( Rockschool Ltd)

In 1991- Rockschool created a unique set of products for a brand-new marketplace: recognised, graded qualifications for contemporary musicians. The traditional instruments performing in a rock & roll band were included in the original graded examinations, Electric guitar, Bass guitar and Drums. After the initial success with these instruments, the company developed syllabi in Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Piano and Keyboards, Ukulele, Contemporary Music theory and most recently the world's first Music Production syllabus. Ongoing reissues keep the material up to date and relevant to the ever changing music world.


Over recent years the company, which is still based in West London, has developed a full suite of music and creative & performing arts vocational qualifications which are delivered in nearly 400 schools and colleges, principally in the UK. These sit alongside a program of contemporary dance qualifications, covering musical theatre, jazz dance and street dance.


A head office team of 42 and a team of over 150 highly trained and certified global examiners, assessors and moderators help deliver the qualifications across the globe.

Rockschool qualifications are recognised and regulated at the highest level by Ofqual, SFA, CCEA, Qualifications Wales and the Department for Education. The higher grades attract UCAS points helping students gain access to university places. 



The Queen¡¯s Award for Enterprise (QAE) is the UK¡¯s most prestigious business award for British companies. It recognises UK businesses for outstanding commercial success in innovation and international trade and leading the way in sustainable development practices, and promoting opportunity - by recognising a business¡¯s social mobility programmes and practices.


A presentation ceremony will be conducted at RSL HQ by the Lord-Lieutenant of the County as HM The Queen¡¯s representative. The Award consist of a Grant of Appointment and a presentational item bearing the Emblem. Additionally, HM The Queen will host a reception at Buckingham Palace for representatives of the winning companies, which will take place on the 28th June, with John Simpson (CEO) and Norton York (Founder and Chairman) in attendance on behalf of the company.


Norton York ¨C Founder & Chairman RSL (Rockschool ltd)

Norton York is Founder and Chairman of Rockschool Ltd. He established Europe's first pop & rock summer school in 1988, Brighton Rock, and then became involved in numerous innovative music industry education projects with the Princes Trust, BBC Radio 1 and the Musicians' Union, establishing how pop and rock music could be taught in schools, colleges and universities in the UK and around the world. In 1991 Norton founded Rockschool to solve the problem of providing the world's first framework to accredit pop musicians as performers, and also founded the first ever commercial music degree at the University of Westminster. Along the way, alumni from Rockschool qualifications and his other projects include Reef, Denys Baptiste, The Feeling, Rudimental, Katy B, and Ed Sheeran - demonstrating that pop and rock music education has provided a real route to commercial and artistic success for many young British artists.


John Simpson ¨C Chief Executive Officer RSL (Rockschool Ltd)

After an early career in retail buying, John progressed to hold senior management positions with Argos, B&Q, New Look and WH Smith. Drawing on his extensive experience, John then lead 4 successful business turnarounds, most recently RSL Awards (Rockschool Ltd). A lifelong musician, John has lead Rockschool since 2013 and the business has seen a dramatic change in fortune.  Under John¡¯s leadership, turnover has doubled and the business was returned to profit in 2014. Rockschool now trades successfully in over 45 countries around the world including the UK and will certificate 70,000+ candidates in 2018.


John has travelled extensively promoting RSL and the Rockschool qualifications particularly in SE Asia, India, mainland Europe and Central America.  The Queens Award for Enterprise will only help the global reputation of RSL and is a natural extension of RSL¡¯s stated objectives to become the ¡®global benchmark in contemporary music and arts¡¯.  


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