Aiming to provide an alternative education model with focus on business and enterprise


The first wave of ‘Studio Schools’ was formally announced by Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls in November this year.

 Studio Schools, aim to offer an innovative new curriculum involving practical learning and paid work, and will   open at six sites across the country from September 2010-in Blackpool, Kirklees, Luton, Newham, Oldham and South Tyneside .In 2007 Government had announced that it would invest £26.5m on piloting new forms of teaching children that have been excluded from school, including piloting the concept of Studio Schools, which specialize in work-based learning and vocational training.

The schools have been designed by the Charity Edge, which promotes practical learning and the Young Foundation, acting through the Studio Schools Trust. This initiative has developed in partnership with the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Studio Schools will be small, with around 300 students. They will teach the national curriculum through interdisciplinary, enterprise-themed projects, but the aim is that they will have a very different style and ethos to most existing schools, with a much stronger emphasis on practical work and enterprise. Every student will have a personal coach; there will be mixed age teams; and the schools will have many of the features of a workplace (like booking holidays). Studio Schools do not aim to replace other secondary schools – but to complement them by providing an alternative approach suitable for young people looking for a more entrepreneurial option or who are alienated by traditional pedagogy.  They are the first of their kind in the world and will cater for 14-19 year olds from a range of abilities. They have been designed to better suit the needs of young people who might not otherwise reach their full potential in traditional school environments.

One example of a studio school is the Luton Studio School that will cater for around 300 young people aged 14-19 of mixed abilities. It began as a field trial in 1997 with Barnfield College and Barnfield Academy West, in Luton. The idea had always been s to scale it up in due course.

 The Luton studio school will be sponsored Barnfield College, which also runs two Academies in Luton that Ofsted graded as making “outstanding progress” this year. The Studio School will benefit from the extensive relationships that Barnfield College has built up with local and regional employers. Under a new scheme, students will be given ‘Barnfield Apprenticeship’ places in areas such as Information Technology, Business Administration and Marketing. They will also be offered work placements within the College’s public operations such cafes and restaurants, creativity suite and retail areas.

The development of Studio Schools have been informed by extensive research and best practice from Britain and around the world. With a focus on business and enterprise, they will look and feel more like a business than a school. Students will participate in a range of enterprise activities, learning the majority of the curriculum through practical multi-disciplinary learning and participating in paid work. To give them a first-hand insight into the working world, all Studio Schools students will also spend a significant portion of their weekly time participating in what is termed ‘ meaningful work experience’. These work placements will be aspirational and linked to employment opportunities in the local area. This aims to allow students to develop an in-depth knowledge of how businesses operate and give them direct experience of their local labour market. Crucially, students will receive remuneration for their work, with students over 16 earning a proper wage. This unique element of the Studio Schools curriculum is designed to play an important role in raising aspirations and equipping students with the skills and experience they need to enter the local job market or set up their own businesses. On leaving their Studio School students will have gained at least Level 2 qualifications. They will have a variety of progression routes available to them including the potential to go to university.

The Studio model provides an alternative route for pupils with a more practical bent who might have been alienated by mainstream schooling .It opens up progression routes to apprenticeships, paid work, further and higher education. The schools have been designed to better suit the needs of young people who might not otherwise reach their full potential in a traditional school environment.

The Studio Schools Trust aims to drive forward innovation in the British education system, working closely with a range of local partners and leading national educational bodies to establish the country’s first Studio Schools. For more information about the Studio Schools trust, please visit or contact Emma Nixon at


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