News story

New studio schools to bridge gap between schools and the world of work

Announcement about 12 new studio schools approved to open in 2012.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
  • 12 approved to open in 2012 - with input from employers like Glaxo, Sony, the BBC and Fulham FC

They join six Studio Schools that are already open. More are expected to follow in the coming years.

Studio Schools offer academic and vocational qualifications, but teach them in a practical and project-based way. Study is combined with paid work placements with local and national employers that are involved in the school.

Learning in this way encourages students to develop skills like punctuality, good communication, reliability and team working, whilst gaining a strong grounding in English, maths and science.

These new schools, which are set up with the backing of local businesses and employers, 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. Employers say that ensuring our young people have these important skills should be a top education priority for the Government.

They join a wave of other new schools - including University Technical Colleges and Free Schools - which respond directly to the demands of local people and will help to raise standards.

The 12 Studio Schools approved include:

  • The Fulham Enterprise Studio School in Hammersmith and Fulham. This project is engaged with high-profile employers, including the BBC, Fulham FC and Age UK (Hammersmith and Fulham).
  • The Studio in Liverpool, which will specialise in games development and digital futures, providing pathways to employment in these significant sectors within the Merseyside region. Key employers involved include Sony and a number of small and medium sized enterprises, all of which will be assisting with developing and delivering the curriculum and in offering placements. The school also has the backing of several universities.
  • The Discovery Studio School in Stoke-on-Trent, which has links with employers in the local ceramics industry including Emma Bridgewater.
  • The Da Vinci Studio School of Science and Engineering in Stevenage, which will offer students the opportunity to access a curriculum based on in-demand science, technology, engineering and maths backed by employers including Glaxo.

Schools Minister Lord Hill said:

Studio Schools bring education and the world of work together and offer the more practical approach to learning which some children need.

Along with teaching a rigorous academic curriculum - in a practical way - they use new approaches to make sure young people understand business basics, like punctuality and the ability to communicate with a wide range of people.

Alongside UTCs and Free Schools, Studio Schools will give parents and children more choice. They will also involve local employers.

Studio Schools offer a varied curriculum 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.
  • Studio Schools also offer other qualifications, such as A levels, Higher Diplomas or BTECs.

Pupils can choose to go to Studio Schools at age 14.

Studio Schools 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. For example, a local hospital might commission pupils to create a campaign that addresses a local health issue. In developing this project, pupils will make links to curriculum subjects, from maths, to science, and marketing, for example. This supports pupils’ engagement by relating all their learning to the world of work.
  • 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 others 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.

This wave of 12 Studio Schools has input from hundreds of local and national employers. Some schools will be located alongside existing maintained schools or academies, and others will be separate academies.

Employers increasingly tell us that they are struggling to find the skills they are looking for in school leavers. So much so, that in the most recent CBI Employer Survey (May 2010), more than two thirds of employers (70 per cent) wanted to see the new Government make the employability skills of young people its top education priority.

David Frost CBE, Chair of the Studio Schools Trust and former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, commented:

“I am delighted that the Government has approved another 12 Studio Schools, and that interest is continuing to grow as we increase our network of Studio Schools across the UK.

“Studio Schools will play 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. Many employers are keen to help develop and shape their workforce for the future, and Studio Schools will allow them to be involved at every step of the way, from helping to design the school curriculum to providing paid work placements for students. Students are able to develop the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for.

'’I look forward to working with the 12 new Studio Schools as they prepare to open in September next year.’’


Notes to editors

  1. The Studio Schools approved today are: * Bradford International Food and Travel Studio School, Bradford * Da Vinci Studio School of Science and Engineering, Hertfordshire * Discovery Studio School, Stoke-on-Trent * Fulham Enterprise Studio School, Hammersmith and Fulham * Hull Studio School, Hull * Hinckley Studio School, Leicestershire * Hyndburn Studio School, Lancashire * Bournemouth Learning and Achievement Foundation Studio School, Bournemouth * Ockendon Studio School, Thurrock * Parkside Studio School, Hillingdon * Tendring Studio School, Essex * The Studio, Liverpool

  2. The groups will now work to make their schools a reality. This includes undertaking a statutory consultation where required in their local area and taking steps to recruit their school’s Principal Designate.

  3. Six Studio Schools are already open. These are Barnfield Studio School in Luton, Kirklees Studio School in Huddersfield, Durham Studio School, Harpurhey Studio School in Manchester, Stephenson Studio School in Leicestershire and the New Line Studio School in Maidstone.

  4. There is no fixed capital allocation for each Studio School project. Ministers took into account the value for money of estimated or potential cost of each application when deciding which ones to approve. We will publish capital costs when they are finalised.

  5. As a major employer in west London, and as part of its corporate responsibility policy, the BBC supports a range of educational initiatives in local schools. This support is given via the Education Business Partnership in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

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Published 14 December 2011