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East Midlands Chamber News

West Nottinghamshire College's Studio School Proposal Gets Green Light

Asha Khemka OBEPlans to open a studio school in Mansfield have been given the go ahead by the Department for Education. Vision Studio School – which will be sponsored by West Nottinghamshire College – will open in September 2014 and be the first of its kind in Nottinghamshire.

Studio schools are a new type of state school for 14 to 19 year-olds of all abilities, whether academic or ‘hands-on’, and aim to bridge the gap between education and employment.

They teach the national curriculum and the same key qualifications as traditional schools but deliver these through project-based learning and work experience with local and national employer partners, who help shape the curriculum.

Vision Studio School will cater for up to 300 students and offer mainstream qualifications – including GCSEs, A Levels, and vocational and professional qualifications – linked to the world of work.

It will focus on developing the key employability and life skills required by employers; with students spending time each week in unpaid and paid work placements linked directly to employment opportunities in the local area.

Enterprise and entrepreneurship will be at the heart of the new school, which will specialise in engineering, transportation, health and care occupations.

The school will operate a 9am to 5pm ‘working day’ to mirror that of many workplaces, and students will be assigned a set number of days ‘leave’ per year to take at times to suit them and their parents, rather than traditional school holidays.

Asha Khemka OBE, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College, said: “We are excited to be at the forefront of this pioneering approach to education and training, which will deliver significant benefits to young people and employers in Mansfield and Ashfield.

“Vision Studio School will offer students of all abilities a high-quality alternative to a traditional school setting, regardless of whether they are academically-focussed or more suited to practical learning.

“By combining the national curriculum with vocational qualifications, enterprise projects and work placements, students will develop the skills, knowledge and characteristics that employers expect.”

“This is crucial to boosting young people’s job prospects and aiding their work-readiness, which are major issues facing our communities today,” added Mrs Khemka.

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 enable employers to develop future employees and apprentices through work-based training and mentoring, which helps prepare young people for employment.

Students have the full range of options available to them including entering the jobs market from an advantageous position, starting an apprenticeship, setting up their own business and progressing to higher education.

News the college had been successful in its bid was welcomed by employers and business leaders.

Malcolm Hall, managing director of Mansfield firm Hall-Fast Industrial Supplies, joined a delegation from the college in making the case for a studio school to officials from the Department for Education last month, as part of the application process.

He said: “This is tremendous news for Mansfield. It’s getting tougher and tougher for young people to get jobs so it’s imperative we give them the opportunity to work with employers from an early age.

“In my view, education should be about getting people ready for the world of work, which makes studio schools such a great model. My company is committed to helping young people and already takes on apprentices from the college, so I’m keen to support the new school in any way I can.”

George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a terrific coup for Mansfield and West Nottinghamshire College should be congratulated for putting together such a strong and comprehensive bid to make its studio school proposal a reality.

“It will have a significant positive impact on the local economy in terms of equipping more young people with the skills that local employers need and enabling them to find jobs with sustainable career prospects. The knock-on effect is more economic output and, crucially, more money spent and kept within the local economy.”

The college is working with the Studio Schools Trust to bring its plans to fruition. There are currently 16 studio schools open across England, with a further 28 due to open by September 2014.

David Nicoll, chief executive of the Studio Schools Trust, said: ''We are delighted that Vision Studio School has been approved to open, which will be part of a network of 44 studio schools across England.

“Vision Studio School will play an important role in shaping the future workforce across the region, and providing new opportunities for young people as well as improving their employment prospects and life chances.''

The college is now seeking to finalise the school’s proposed location in Mansfield before embarking on further consultation with parents, carers, schools, employers and residents.

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