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The Corporation

Posted: 20/11/12

College announces ‘studio school’ proposals

West Nottinghamshire College has launched a consultation on ambitious proposals to create a new school in Mansfield that would provide a “different and exciting approach” to learning, along with paid work experience for students.

The college wants to open Nottinghamshire’s first ‘studio school’ to bridge the gap between education and employment amongst 14 to 19-year-olds who benefit from practical learning.

Studio schools are a new type of state school developed in partnership with employers, leading education agencies and the Government.

They offer academic and vocational qualifications taught in a practical and project-based way. Study is combined with work placements with local and national employers, who are involved in the school and in designing its curriculum.

The proposed Vision Studio School will cater for up to 300 students of all abilities in tutor groups of no more than 15.

Specialising in engineering and transportation, together with health and care occupations, it would teach the national curriculum and offer the same core academic qualifications as traditional schools including GCSE English, maths, science and ICT, in addition to A Levels and vocational subjects.  It would also operate a 9am - 5pm ‘working day’ to closely mirror that of many workplaces.

Principal and chief executive Asha Khemka OBE said: “Vision Studio School would offer 14 to 19-year-olds a different and exciting approach to their education, combining academic excellence, employability and enterprise skills, a personalised curriculum and practical hands-on learning.

“The most distinctive element is paid work experience with its employer partners to help prepare students for employment and aid their work-readiness.

“The proposed studio school would help address some of the challenges faced by our local communities; not least real work opportunities for young people, raising hopes and aspirations, and helping companies develop and recruit the right type of employees.”

A consultation is now under way to gather the views of parents, carers, schools, employers and residents on the outline proposals.

The college is also in discussions with potential employer partners prior to submitting an application to the Department for Education in January 2013.

If given the go ahead, the school will open in September 2014.  Although the site for the proposed school is still under consideration, the college is promising an “inspirational, vibrant place to study.”

The college is working with the Studio Schools Trust – which has helped set up five studio schools across the country, with a further 27 planned to open by September 2013 – to bring the plans to fruition.

Studio schools are part of the Government's drive to ensure the education system responds to demands from employers for the skills they need to grow and prosper.

They offer employers the opportunity to develop future employees and apprentices by engaging with them at an early age so they can achieve success more quickly once in full-time employment.  Meanwhile, students receive work-based training and mentoring, which helps prepare them for employment.

College bosses say its experience and expertise in vocational learning makes it “ideally placed” to develop a new and employer-focussed curriculum.

As well as having strong links with many businesses and commercial enterprises, since 2003 it has catered for more 4,000 pupils through its Schools Academy programme, which sees 14 to 17-year-olds from local schools study vocational subjects at college one day a week.

Mrs Khemka added: “We believe the school will attract and inspire young people of all abilities who learn better ‘by doing’, as well as providing a genuine alternative for those who are currently under-achieving in a mainstream school setting.

“But first, we’re keen to hear people’s views on our proposals in order to help shape this exciting opportunity for Mansfield and surrounding areas.”

To find out more about the plans or have your say, visit www.visionstudioschool.co.uk

Alternatively, people can request an information leaflet and questionnaire by calling 01623 627191 or by emailing info@visionstudioschool.co.uk

About the Studio Schools Trust

The Studio Schools Trust, a joint venture between not-for-profit organisation The Young Foundation and independent education foundation Edge, is the organisation that unites all studio schools.

It acts as a linking point between studio schools, enabling the sharing of best practice as well as providing advice and curriculum support. It also works closely with the Department for Education and a range of national and local organisations and employers. Crucially, it is responsible for ensuring that studio schools offer the highest possible standards of education to their students.

Visit www.studioschoolstrust.org for more.