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The Corporation

Posted: 24/03/16

New studio school chief unveils ‘vision’

The new principal of Nottinghamshire’s only studio school has unveiled his ‘vision’ for the pioneering education-provider.

Chris Hatherall outside the school on Chesterfield Road South, Mansfield.

Chris Hatherall took over the reins at Mansfield’s Vision Studio School earlier this month and has vowed to build on its success by making it “a centre of excellence” in preparing young people for the world of work.

The experienced educationalist, who succeeds interim principal Heather Scott, has joined from Wigan University Technical College, where he spent four years as principal.

He insisted he felt “honoured” to join the school, which opened in September 2014, and have the opportunity lead it to an “even brighter future.”

Mr Hatherall said: “Vision Studio School has built a reputation for equipping young people with the skills to gain meaningful employment or high-status apprenticeships that meet the needs of industry.

“It’s become well-known for bringing new opportunities to students and employers in Mansfield and Ashfield. I’m keen to build on these strengths, enhance the learning experience, and establish the school as a centre of excellence in securing young people’s futures.”

A new type of school for 14 to 19-year-olds, Vision Studio School bridges the gap between education and employment by giving students regular exposure to industry. Students specialise in either engineering or health and social care, alongside core GCSEs, through project-based classroom learning and work placements with employers.

The school, on Chesterfield Road South, currently serves 208 students from years 10 to 13, and has more than 100 employer partners ranging from small and medium-sizes businesses to major organisations and charities. Sponsored by West Nottinghamshire College, it is currently the only studio school in Nottinghamshire and one of only 39 across the country.

Mr Hatherall continued: “The school is in an extremely privileged position to impact positively on students and the wider community. It addresses the mismatch in expectations between employers and school-leavers by ensuring students gain the qualifications, work experience and ‘softer skills’ that organisations demand.

“I’m especially excited by the specialisms in engineering and health and social care. Tens of thousands of vacancies will need filling in these sectors over the next ten years across the UK – and the school is well-placed to play its part by supplying highly-trained workers.”

The father-of-two said his greatest passion was “working with young people and changing lives,” adding: “Some of the most rewarding moments in my professional life have come from former students getting back in touch and sharing their successes with me.

“I can’t wait to experience that here.”

Mr Hatherall, 41, has held a number of leadership posts in the secondary education sector since qualifying as a teacher in 1997. Previous roles include head of technology at Whalley Range High School and vice-principal at Wellacre Technology College, both in Manchester.

Formerly a lead practitioner for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, he has received national recognition for the support he has provided to schools across the country in developing STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) courses.

Recognised by Google as a promotor of emerging technologies in education, Mr Hatherall is also a former national Green Apple Award-winner.

Welcoming his appointment, chair of governors Dame Asha Khemka, said: “I’m thrilled we have secured somebody with Chris’s talent, experience and ambition. Having successfully led a similar institution in the north-west, I’m confident he’s the right person to take our school to the next level.”