About Studio West

Introduction to Studio West

Studio West offers a vibrant learning experience combining GCSEs, A Levels and occupational qualifications. We believe in inspiring our students to be 'the best they can be' so that they reach their potential academically and also develop the social skills and personal qualities, which are so vital for their future life and career.

Immersing students in real-life, hands-on projects, is an extremely efficient and engaging way of learning. Through this method, students not only pick up core skills, such as Maths, English and Science, but also learn and practice the softer, but equally important, skills employers are looking for – such as independent thought, responsibility, team work and communication skills. By working in this way and collaborating with real companies, we have created an environment which nurtures well-rounded, mature and confident individuals, who leave us fully ready for the workplace.

Whats is special about the approach to learning at Studio West?

A small school making a big difference

Studio West offers a dynamic approach to learning, preparing young people with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to succeed in life. Education is taken out of the classroom, with students learning in the real world through working in teams on projects designed to reflect real-life situations. Through weekly work placements, they develop the employability skills needed to succeed in life and work.

Studio West offers students a new and inspiring approach to learning, which includes teaching through enterprise projects and work. This approach ensures students' learning is rooted in the real world, helping them to develop the critical thinking, creative and life skills they need to flourish. We have built a strong reputation for employment creation and the development of young entrepreneurs, whilst becoming an exemplary springboard for new business ventures in the local economy.

Our approach to learning is based on the national Studio School model, providing a learning experience unlike any other. Studio Schools are a new type of state school model, designed to equip young people with the academic grounding, knowledge, skills and experiences they need to succeed in life and work.

How is Student's Learning Connected to the Real World of Work?

Studio West does not feel like a school. It feels more like starting on your dream career! But like your dream employer we demand high standards and total commitment.

This business and education collaboration within Studio West greatly enriches the learning experience of the students by providing a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and opportunities beyond the classroom, for easier access to a range of businesses and resources, and for building lasting relationships. Bringing on board local employers ensures that the Studio West curriculum is relevant to developing our students' employability skills and ensuring that these fit with local business needs.

We have high expectations of our students’ behaviour, attitudes to work and dress. We expect them to behave in a way which reflects the professional approach to learning and the working environment they regularly visit.

What is The Uniform?

Students wear the new Studio West uniform from day one. It is designed to look and feel right both in school and the work-place. The smart business-style jacket, with discreet Studio West logo and school colour shirt is worn with black trousers or skirt and sensible black shoes. Uniform can be purchased at Top Class Uniform, Blakelaw.

Financial support is available where required by students of all ages.

How BIG is it?

Studio West is big and small!

Studio West has all the best features of a small school – a safe environment where every student is known well and nobody slips through the net. Your child’s personal tutor can guide their progress in all they do and keep in touch with you.

Small class sizes… More focus

Students are part of a small, supportive and personalized learning environment. We currently have 120 students in attendance, which we expect to rise to a maximum of just over 300 in the coming years.

But we aren't missing out on the large school advantages either, because our links with Kenton School provides high quality technical backup and professional services, and even more importantly, expert specialist teaching to match your child’s special interests and talents.

Our Governors

Just like every other school, we have a board of Governors who help to run the school by making decisions on how we spend our money, who we choose to appoint and by assessing the performance of senior staff.

Kenton Schools Academy Trust Governors calendar of meetings 2016/17 (PDF)

Our Governing Body

Mr K McDermid, Chief Exectuive Officer

Mrs V Wigham, Principal Studio West

I am proud to be Principal of Studio West and privileged to lead this ground breaking venture into a bright future; giving our young people a much broader outlook as they endeavour to find their place in the world. I feel my entire career has led me to this point. I was born and bred on my family farm in Rowlands Gill. I now run that farm with my brother as well as leading Studio West. My farm keeps me grounded and the “hard graft” gives me the clarity and perspective I need to be successful as a Principal. It’s quite common to see me helping with the harvest in the Summer, baling the hay or riding the combine. My connection to the land and to the Northeast remains steadfast.

I studied for a Combined Arts and Education Degree and then began my career in education. I have spent my entire working life devoted to schools in the North East of England. I spent 13 years at Lord Lawson of Beamish School in various roles. I was Assistant Head and ran a graphic design shop within the school as well as teaching students Art. I moved on from Lord Lawson to Kenton Academy Trust where I took up the role of Deputy Headteacher. It was here that my passion for curriculum design, project based learning and linking the world of work to the world of school really took off. Studio West was four years in the planning. From conception to reality, Studio West is the culmination of a dream I once had, to make education make sense for young people.

I’m a firm believer in working hard, maintaining a sense of humour and possessing a go-getting approach. Studio West is going places; we have a lot to show the world of education and I am determined to make that happen.

I occasionally find time to relax! I like to walk my Jack Russell, Ollie, who is a little rescue dog and quite the school mascot. I like to paint and am currently working on a watercolour of Ollie. I am passionate about Art and my thirst for knowledge is never quenched. I still teach and I share my passion everyday with my students.

Mr R Smith, Vice Chair

Ross Smith is Director of Policy at the North East England Chamber of Commerce. He is responsible for the Chamber'’'s relationship with its 3,000 members in business around North East England, along with overseeing the Chamber's policy and campaign work, local representation, and other member services.

Ross graduated in politics and history from Newcastle University. Prior to joining the Chamber he worked as a political journalist in Northern Ireland and North East England. From 2004 to 2007 he was Regional Affairs Correspondent at The Journal, responsible for coverage of political and regional development issues. Ross is also a former member of the North East regional council of the Arts Council and trustee at Westgate Baptist Church in Newcastle. He lives in Fenham with his wife and four young children

Ms K Cowell, Co-opted Governor

Katherine Cowell is a senior civil servant in the Department for Education. She is currently deputy director in the Regional School Commissioner’s office and leads across the North (which includes Cumbria, North Yorkshire, the North East and Tees Valley) on the development of Multi Academy Trusts and Sponsors, on schools converting to academy status and on changes to open academies. She has 17 years experience in the civil service, and has worked on a wide range of education, skills and economic growth policy including as an advisor in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and in HM Treasury. Katherine returned to the North East from London three years ago and now lives in Jesmond with her husband and two young daughters.

Mr D Smith, Chair

David is an Associate Partner with accountancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) and leads the national Government & Public Sector (G&) financial management practice. He has 20 years of knowledge and experience of accounting and financial management advice in the Public Sector and his areas of specialism include financial and management reporting, a strong technical knowledge and practical experience of government accounting, treasury management, finance training, finance function reviews, value for money studies and overall financial performance efficiency. David is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA), an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ACA) and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). David began his career from University as a Civil Servant with the Wales Office, where he spent five years managing accounts production and finance change. He has been with professional services firms since 2000.

He is married and has two school-age daughters.

Prof. P Pearson, Co-opted Governor

Pauline Pearson has been Professor of Nursing at Northumbria University since 2009. Pauline practised as a health visitor until 1993, completing a part-time PhD in 1988. She has a strong background in health services research, and good links with a range of health and social care providers across the North East. Her interests include care quality and safety, interprofessional working, workforce change and aspects of public health and primary care practice. She is recognised nationally as an expert in building community capacity to improve health and wellbeing. In 2005 Pauline was ordained deacon, and served her (spare time) curacy at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Denton, just down the road from Studio West. She was ordained priest in 2006, and in 2010 moved to be Associate Priest (still in her spare time) in the parishes of St George and St Hilda, Jesmond. She is a governor on behalf of the Diocese of Newcastle.

01/09/2014 - 01/09/2018

Ms S Huntley, Staff Governor

24/10/2014 - 24/10/2018

I joined Studio West in 2014 as it opened its doors for the first time. It is absolutely incredible being part of an exciting new venture such as this. I am Deputy Principal and I also teach English which has always been my passion.

I grew up in Ashington, the daughter of a miner and my roots are firmly embedded in the North East. I studied Theology and English and obtained my degree in 1985. I taught for ten years in Manchester before travelling to Mexico City where I was Head of Sixth Form. I worked there for three years before returning to the Uk via a brief spell in India where I worked for a disaster relief charity. Once back in England I worked in Hertfordshire as Head of English for a number of years. I moved back to the North East ten years ago, as Assistant Head at Monkseaton High School, Principal Director of Teaching & Learning at NCEA and finally as Deputy Principal at Studio West.

I enjoy writing and am a prolific reader. My passion is poetry. I have two Golden Retriever dogs who make sure I get plenty of exercise. I keep rescue chickens in my garden and I have two cats. Remarkable they all get on really well. When I retire I would like to have a small holding but at the moment my entire passion revolves around Studio West. Alongside Val I believe fervently in what we are trying to achieve and we are working hard to make it a reality. The students at Studio West are amazing, they are so hungry for knowledge and they are a pleasure to teach. Every day is an adventure and I can’t wait to see where it will lead us.

Mrs T Carson, Clerk

Governors Statement of Principles

The expectations and aspirations for Studio West students are high. Staff at Studio West understand that these skills, attitudes and abilities are developed as people learn and grow. Students and staff understand that they are essential in the workplace and adult life, as well as in school. Some students will excel without support, while others may need more encouragement to meet these expectations.

In order to support all students to achieve their potential we have the following in place:-

  1. Clear guidelines and rules which are communicated to staff, students and parents. This includes an acknowledgement of the principle of joint enterprise as it applies in school
  2. Rewards for achievement and progress
  3. A wide range of sanctions for poor behaviour or lack of commitment
  4. An appropriate and easy-to-use system for recording all aspects of behaviour
  5. Support systems to help students improve their behaviour which include partnerships with external agencies such as Behaviour Support Service and Educational Psychologists
  6. Guidance for teaching and learning staff on managing behaviour for learning
  7. A clear understanding of how incidents of ill-discipline should be challenged giving regard to the context in which they occur
  8. Appropriate consultation systems for staff, student, parents and business partners, which will enable us to adapt our policy and systems

It is the responsibility of all staff to ensure that good order and discipline are maintained at all times in school. The school is committed to ensuring that all staff receive appropriate training and guidance to allow them to discharge this duty.

Governing Body Membership Expiration Dates

Please note that B Paton stood down as Chair of Governors in December 2016. Mr Paton was replaced as Chair by S Hanson and Ms Mills became Vice Chair from that point.

Further, S Hanson was replaced as Chair by S Hanson and Ms Mills was replaced as Vice Chair in January 2019.

Governor Type Name Start Date End Date
Member (Chief Executive of Kenton Schools Academy Trust) David Pearmain n/a 31/08/17
Member (Principal, Studio West) Val Wigham n/a n/a
Member (Chief Exectuive Officer) Kevin McDermid 01/09/17 n/a
Member (Chair of Governors, Kenton School) Jackie McHanwell n/a n/a
Co-opted Pauline Pearson 01/09/2014 01/09/2018
Staff Sue Huntley 24/10/2014 24/10/2018
Vice Chair Ross Smith 04/04/17 04/04/21
Chair David Smith 19/09/17 19/09/21
Co-opted Katherine Cowell 04/04/17 04/04/21
Co-opted Mr B Orford
Co-opted Mr N Hogarth
Paretn Mrs N Nichol

Governor Meeting Attendance

Please note that B Paton stood down as Chair of Governors in December 2016. Mr Paton was replaced as Chair by S Hanson and Ms Mills became Vice Chair from that point.

Our Governing Body formally met 5 times during the 2014/15 academic year and again 5 times during the 2015/16 academic year.

Attendance at these meetings was as follows:

Governor 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
B Paton, Chair 5 5 N/A
S Hanson, Vice Chair N/A 5 5
D Pearmain, Chief Executive 5 2 2
V Wigham, Principal 5 5 5
K Mills, Parent Governor 4 5 5
R Smith, Co-opted Governor N/A N/A 2 (out of possible 2)
K Cowell, Co-opted Governor N/A N/A 1 (out of possible 2)
J Middleton, Co-opted Governor 5 2 4
Rev. Prof. P Pearson, Co-opted Governor 3 3 3
S Huntley, Staff Governor 4 5 5
H Vasey, Clerk to the Governors 5 5 5

Governors' Register of Pecuniary Interests

You can download our Register of Pecuniary Interests part one and the Register of Pecuniary Interests part two or Register of Pecuniary Interests part three as PDF documents

More details of our finanical procedures and statements can be found on our Financial Policies page

Scheme of Delegation

Studio West Scheme Of Delegation (PDF)

Functions of Trustees, Committees, LGB and Sub-Committees

  1. The Trustees will be responsible for setting Trust strategy, analysing and mitigating risk and for overseeing the operation and performance of all schools, including: learning standards and quality, behaviour and attendance standards, finance, staffing, policy development and compliance, statutory and regulatory compliance and reputation.
  2. They will normally delegate decisions on finance, procurement and staffing to their relevant committees, which they will appoint as they see fit, but at least two members of each committee must be Trustees.
  3. The Trust will normally delegate to each Local Governing Body governance responsibility for all other aspects of school performance, including curriculum and other improvements and innovations within their school and any outcomes identified in the School Scoreboard (Data Dashboard) and other performance information, within overall Trust parameters.
  4. However, The Trust may take back delegated powers, intervene or direct the LGB on any matter as it sees fit, especially on issues which they have identified as high risk. In such cases, the trustees associated with the school under scrutiny will invite challenge from the other trustees.
  5. It is also expected that each non-staff LGB member (4-8) will carry a portfolio, taking specific responsibility for monitoring and challenge performance in one aspect of the school's performance (Achievement & Progress, Teaching, Behaviour & Safety, Leadership & Management).
  6. The Principals of Studio West and Kenton School will be accountable to the LGB for all aspects of the schools' performance and improvement, including student and school performance and standards and improvement planning. The Chief Executive will normally attend LGB meetings, as an adviser and observer. The Principal will be accountable to him as well as to the LGB and to the Chief Executive and Trust for financial and staffing issues
  7. It is anticipated that the Principal of Kenton School will account regularly to the Performance and Innovation Committee for outcomes identified in the School Scoreboard (Data Dashboard) and other performance information and for the School Improvement Plan.
  8. The LGB may set up any further sub-committee(s) it deems necessary, but its sub-committee(s) can only be advisory, not decision-making.
  9. The Chef Executive will be the chief accounting officer and will account to the Trustees for all aspects of the performance of Studio West and Kenton School and their Principals and will present a Risk Analysis and escalate risk and performance concerns to them.
  10. The Chief Executive will also carry specific responsibility for the finance and human resources of the Trust and report to the appropriate Trust committees on these areas.

Contact Studio West

It's simple to get in touch. The easiest method is to contact us directly through the website. We always look forward to hearing from people.