Hyndburn Studio School starts first term in Accrington

Hillary McGonagle Hillary McGonagle said she was looking forward to her new role

A new vocational school, the first of its kind in Lancashire, has opened in Accrington.

Hyndburn Studio School teaches 14 to 19-year-olds in vocational subjects alongside GCSEs, providing practical experience designed to tackle skills shortages.

Students will work from 09:00 to 17:00, and take annual leave instead of school holidays.

The free school is starting its first term with 29 new students.

It hopes to cater for 300 by 2015.

The school says it caters for young people who may not otherwise achieve their full potential in a traditional school environment.

Students study maths, English, science and ICT at GCSE as well as care and health; sport, leisure and tourism; hospitality and catering; business and finance; and construction skills.

Head of school, Hillary McGonagle, said: "There is a minority of children who can't reach their potential in mainstream schools, and that's why I'm here.

"My son coasted through his GCSEs and would have benefited from a studio school, so I have a passion for them.

"Students want a mix and that's what we do - vocational qualifications, GCSEs, work experience and project-based work - it's more rounded."

Free schools can be set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts, and religious or voluntary groups. They are funded by central government and are not in local authority control.

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