Like thousands of youngsters throughout the country, Louis Moore will this week make the leap from primary to secondary school. But the 11-year-old's new school will be vastly different to that of his friends.

The first thing he'll have to do is get a haircut. For the Mohican-sporting Birmingham youngster, who wears hoodies and spends most of his spare time skateboarding, will this Saturday become a boarder at the prestigious Royal Ballet School.

Based in London, the elite institution only takes on 24 of the most prom-ising candidates each year to train to become professional ballet dancers.

According to the former Kings Heath Primary School pupil, it was his silky skill on a skateboard that helped him get into one of the world's most exclusive schools.

"You have to be able to balance well on a skateboard and that is the same in ballet," he said. Despite moving to London, Louis is keen to keep in touch with his skateboarding pals back in Birmingham.

"I'll be away from my family and friends which is a bit sad, but I will be coming home on weekends and will keep up my skateboarding," he said.

The Hall Green youngster's story bares much in common with the character in the hit film Billy Elliot about a northern boy plucked from obscurity to join the Royal Ballet School. Like Billy Elliot, Louis was not an obvious choice to join the institution, says his mother, Sarah McTaggart, aged 42, a social worker.

"He looks like the most unlikely person for ballet school with his skater style. People are quite taking aback because he wears hoodies and baggy jeans."

The youngster's talent was first identified by scouts from the Birmingham Royal Ballet Company who visited his school about two years ago.

"They come into primary schools in Birmingham and they pick out children who they think have potentially got the skills to learn ballet," said Sarah.

"Louis was aged nine in year four. They picked about 20 who started having weekly ballet lessons with them. Louis' ballet teacher said he was very good and maybe he should consider doing another class so he did two lessons a week in year five."

In his final year at primary school Louis auditioned and was accepted for a place on a a youth outreach project run by the Royal Ballet School called Junior Associates.

"When he was in year five Louis said he'd heard of ballet school and he didn't want to go to a normal secondary," said Sarah. "We let him apply to the Royal Ballet School and Birmingham's Elmhurst School for Dance.

Louis was offered a place at Elmhurst but in March this year travelled down to London to audition for the RBS. "He got offered a place which was amazing," said Sarah, whose husband Jonathan Moore is an accountant for a brewery firm.

Though proud of her son, like any mother she can't help feeling slightly apprehensive about the huge change ahead.

"We don't know that much about the school," she said. "Because he hasn't started yet I have no real experience of what life is like there and how it affects the children other than what people have told me.

"The way we look at it as parents is we have no crystal ball - we just viewed it to be an opportunity. Even if he only has two or three years there, it would be something he will have done in his life. He will always have been to the Royal Ballet School."

Louis will start in the lower school based in Richmond, where he will study dance styles including Irish, Morris and Scottish alongside academic subjects.

If he stays on until 16, he will move to the upper school in Convent Garden. As well as being a world centre for dance, the school also has a good academic record.

But as far as Louis' parents are concerned, the most important thing is that their son is doing something he enjoys. "The thing he spends a lot of his free time doing is skateboarding," said Sarah.

"He loves skateboarding and playing football. But ballet was something that gave him confidence. He was quite a quiet child at school, not a child that really excelled at a lot of things. Ballet gave him confidence because he found he was really good at something."