More work-based 'studio schools' announced

Student cutting out pastry Local employers are involved with studio schools

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Thirteen new "studio schools" are to be set up in England from September next year, it has been announced.

It will bring to more than 40 the total number of this new breed of schools, which mix academic studies with work-based training.

The schools are for pupils aged 14 and over and the idea is for local employers to be involved.

The latest involve Barclays, The National Trust, RSPCA and The National Space Centre among others.

About 100 national and local employers are involved.

Supporters say the schools will help young people learn useful work skills and find jobs, but critics say they could limit their options by forcing them down a particular path too soon.

The 13 new studio schools join 15 that are already preparing to open and 16 currently open.

About 14,000 students will go to them in total. All will offer GCSEs in English, maths and science, the government says, as well as A-levels and vocational qualifications, but will offer a "more practical way of learning".

Schools Minister Lord Nash said: "More employers are getting involved in studio schools, demonstrating their commitment to preparing young people - who will be their future employees - for the world of work.

"It is crucial for young people to have the skills and experience vital to employers, both for their own prosperity and to help us compete in the global race."

Chairman of the Studio Schools Trust Geoff Mulgan said the announcement was "very good news" for young people and employers.

"Young people learn better when they're tackling real life problems, and they learn better when there's a clear line of sight linking what they do in school to future jobs and careers," he said.

The schools will offer GCSEs in English, maths and science, the government says, as well as A-levels and vocational qualifications, but will offer a "more practical way of learning".

They are similar to University Technical Colleges (UTCs), which are also for young people aged from 14, and part of the government's strategy to improve vocational training. UTCs will offer more advanced technical training, the government says.

But teaching unions have attacked them, saying they are adding unnecessary diversity to the education system and forcing children to make important life-decisions at too young an age.

Space and science

One of the new schools, Dorset Studio School in Dorchester, will focus on environmental and land-based studies and is backed by groups including the National Trust, RSPCA and the Royal Veterinary College.

Another, Sir Frank Whittle Studio College in Leicestershire, will specialise in engineering, retail and logistics and hospitality and leisure.

A third, Space Studio Banbury in Oxfordshire, will focus on space, science and maths, with the involvement of The National Space Centre, UK Space Agency and European Space Agency.

The other studio schools planned are:

• Apollo Studio Academy in Durham, specialising in Stem (science and maths) subjects, health, care and early years and with the involvement of the NHS Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust.

• De Salis Studio College in Hillingdon, which will specialise in business and finance and be supported by Accenture, PWC, and HMRC, among others.

• Future Tech Studio in Warrington, specialising in ICT, with involvement of National Nuclear Laboratories, Barclays Global Technology Centre, and Talk Talk.

• Island Studio School on the Isle of Wight, jointly proposed by Southampton City College and the Isle of Wight Council, specialising in marine manufacturing.

• Knutsford Academy: The Studio in Cheshire East, specialising in digital technologies and "employability skills"; links with Barclays, Deloitte and Manchester Airport.

• Manchester Creative Studio, led by the founder of the Collective Spirit Free School in Oldham which is due to open in September this year. It will specialise in the creative industries, particularly in design, interactive media and digital technology.

• Studio West in Newcastle, proposed by Kenton Academy and with links to various local employers.

• The Bath Studio School, proposed by a group of five schools; specialising in business, IT and administration.

• The Digital Studio College in Derbyshire, proposed by Derby College and backed by local employers including Age UK.

• Vision Studio School in Nottinghamshire, proposed by West Nottinghamshire College; specialising in health, care, engineering and transport and backed by employers including Sherwood Forest NHS Trust and Ilkeston football club.

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