Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Big business backs new studio schools [July 2012]

The press release issued by the Department for Education on 18 July 2012.

The new schools are due to open in 2013 and 2014. By September 2013 we expect 30 studio schools to be open.

Studio schools are set up with the backing of employers, and are a key part of the government’s drive to ensure the education system gives school leavers the skills that business needs to grow and prosper.

They offer academic and vocational qualifications but teach them in a practical way. Study is combined with work placements with local and national employers involved in the school.

Along with university technical colleges, studio schools will increase choice for parents and pupils in communities across the country, help raise standards in vocational education and ensure young people have the skills that employers demand.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

Studio schools benefit both business and young people – they are a brilliant way for employers to become involved in helping give young people what they need to get good jobs. They are aimed at children who learn in more practical ways and offer good qualifications alongside the kind of skills employers want.

Studio schools teach a rigorous academic and vocational curriculum in a practical way. They equip young people with the qualifications and skills to help companies prosper, and offer paid work experience.

It is fantastic that so many successful employers are getting behind the studio school movement.

The projects approved today include:

The Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio in Blackburn, where Darwen will specialise in business administration, retail, ICT and leisure. It is led by the Aldridge Foundation, sponsors of existing academies, who will work with employers including Capita, Crown Paints, Twin Valley Homes and European Electronique to deliver a curriculum focused on entrepreneurship and tailored to local skills needs.

The Southampton Studio School, proposed by Southampton City College, will specialise in marine and cruise industries, a major local employer. The school will offer students the opportunity to follow a range of pathways including apprenticeships and HE targeted at local skills gaps via a project based curriculum and work placements developed with the involvement of employers and other local partners, including Business Solent, Meacher’s Global Logistics, Royal Yachting Association and Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust.

The Kajan Hospitality and Catering Studio, which has been proposed by Kajan Women’s Enterprise, a social enterprise that works with adults, children and young people in the Birmingham area. The school will specialise in cuisine and culinary skills with a focus on Caribbean catering. Partner employers include Aston Villa Football Club, Hilton Hotels and National Express.

David Frost CBE, chair of the Studio Schools trust and former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

I am delighted that the government has approved another 15 studio schools, and that interest is continuing to grow as we expand our network of studio schools across England.

Studio schools are playing a vital role in equipping young people with the skills and experience that they need to succeed in a competitive jobs market, through combining mainstream qualifications with real experience of the world of work.

Employers are keen to help prepare young people for the workplace, and studio schools allow them to get involved in all aspects of school life – from designing the curriculum and delivering masterclasses, to providing paid work placements and mentoring students.

With enterprise and entrepreneurialism at the core, many studio schools will run their own social enterprises, and students will run their own businesses, therefore helping to strengthen the economy and community in their local area.

I look forward to working with the 15 new studio schools as they prepare to open.

The 12 new studio schools yet to open but already approved include:

  • The Fulham Enterprise Studio in Hammersmith and Fulham, west London. This project involves the BBC, Virgin Media, Fulham FC and Age UK.
  • The Stoke Studio College in Stoke-on-Trent, which has links with employers in the construction industry including Kier.
  • The Da Vinci Studio School of Science and Engineering in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, which will offer students the opportunity to access a curriculum based on science, technology, engineering and maths, backed by multi-national employers.

Studio schools offer a varied curriculum for children from age 14, but have a strong academic core:

  • All will offer GCSEs in English, maths and science and other GCSEs and vocational qualifications which are recognised by employers and universities.
  • The majority of the new studio schools will offer students the opportunity to achieve the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).
  • Studio schools also offer other qualifications, such as A levels, Higher Diplomas or BTECs.

They differ from other schools in the way they deliver these qualifications, to ensure that young people are developing the skills that local employers are looking for:

  • All subjects are taught through projects, often designed with employers
  • They typically operate longer days and outside standard school terms – giving pupils a good understanding of a working day, and the importance of good attendance and punctuality in business
  • Along with their studies pupils carry out work placements for four hours a week, with employers who work with the school. After age 16 this increases to two days a week and pupils are paid for this work
  • Each pupil has a ‘personal coach’, which seeks to replicate the role of a supportive line manager in the workplace. Coaches also help students get the most out of the curriculum and their work placements

For many pupils and their parents, the opportunity to combine studying for qualifications with developing skills that will give them the edge in the competitive jobs market will be very attractive. For other students, the opportunity to gain qualifications through this new approach will mean they are more engaged and perform better than in a more conventional school.

Employers report that they are struggling to find the skills they are looking for in school leavers. In the most recent CBI employer survey (May 2010), more than two thirds of employers (70%) wanted to see the new government make the employability skills of young people its top education priority.