Studio Schools

What is a Studio School?

The Studio School is a new concept in education, which seeks to address the growing gap between the skills and knowledge that young people require to succeed, and those that the current education system provides. Studio Schools pioneer a bold new approach to learning which includes teaching through enterprise projects and real work. This approach ensures students' learning is rooted in the real world and helps them to develop the skills they need to flourish in life. For detailed information, please read the Studio Schools Brochure.

Studio Schools are designed for 14-19 year olds of all abilities. They are small schools for 300 students; and with year-round opening and a 9-5 working day, they feel more like a workplace than a school. Working closely with local employers, Studio Schools offer a range of academic and vocational qualifications including GCSEs in English, Maths and Science, as well as paid work placements linked directly to employment opportunities in the local area. Students gain a broad range of employability and life skills through the CREATE skills framework, and have the option to go on to university, further training, and into employment.

The Need for Studio Schools

Studio Schools are grounded in extensive research and best practice from the UK and around the world. The key elements of the model are tried and tested. What makes Studio Schools unique is that they bring these together for the first time into one whole-school model. At the heart of the vision is the insight that a bold new approach to learning can play a central role in tackling youth disengagement and equipping young people with the skills they need to succeed in life and work.

Essential Elements

At the heart of the Studio Schools' model are seven key features, which have been developed through extensive research and consultation with employers, education experts and young people. These essential elements provide a framework for all Studio Schools and are built upon by individual schools who tailor the model to meet the needs of their local community and local labour market.

Academic Excellence

Like traditional schools, Studio Schools teach the National Curriculum and offer key academic and vocational qualifications. The qualifications offered by individual schools vary depending on local circumstances, however all deliver qualifications at Level 2 and above, including core GCSEs in English, Maths and Science. On leaving a Studio School, students have the full range of progression routes available to them. They have gained the qualifications, knowledge and skills to choose the option which is suitable to them: entering the jobs market from an advantageous position; starting an apprenticeship; or going on to further or higher education.

Employability and Enterprise Skills

Key employability and life skills underpin all the activities at a Studio School through the unique CREATE skills framework. CREATE is comprised of a wide range of skills and stands for Communication, Relating to people, Enterprise, Applied skills, Thinking skills and Emotional intelligence. Four years in the making, CREATE is grounded in a wide range of skills typologies and has been developed specifically for Studio Schools in order to equip young people with the key skills that they need to flourish.

Personalised Curriculum

In Studio Schools all students are assigned a ‘personal coach’ who meets with them one-to-one every fortnight to develop their own personalised learning plan. This allows students to tailor their curriculum to their individual needs and aspirations, and track their progress towards their CREATE skills and qualifications. Personalisation of the curriculum is further supported through a small school environment in which every young person can access the tailored support that they need.

Practical Learning

Enquiry-based learning (EBL) lies at the heart of the Studio Schools' curriculum model. In Studio Schools, students learn the National Curriculum principally through Enterprise Projects in their school, local businesses and surrounding community. To root students’ learning in the real world most projects involve external commissions. So whether it is a health report for their local hospital or a business brief for a local employer, students’ learning is authentic and actively involves them in local community life.

Real Work

In Studio Schools, students spend a significant portion of their weekly time on real work placements. Students work as employees in local businesses and, crucially, students over sixteen earn a wage. Students in Year 10 and 11 participate in four hours work experience each week, and students in Year 12 and 13 spend two days per week in work. There is considerable evidence that this direct, ‘hands on’ experience better prepares young people for life and work.

Small Schools

As small schools of around 300 students, Studio Schools offer a supportive, personalised learning environment in which strong pastoral care runs throughout the school’s activities. This helps to ensure that no young person gets lost within the institution and that young people are able to build strong relationships with their peers and coaches. Crucially, coaches know students well, making them better able to tailor the curriculum to their individual needs and aspirations.

Students of All Abilities

Studio Schools are fully inclusive and comply with the national School Admissions Code.

The Need for Studio Schools

The name ‘Studio School’ comes from the concept of the Renaissance studio, prevalent in Europe from around 1400 to 1700, where working and learning were integrated. Students were taught by an experienced master in the same workshop in which the master created and produced his work. Artists and inventors such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo all learnt their trade and eventually taught in a studio setting.

Our goal is to take this older tradition and apply it to the 21st Century, creating schools in which students progress in academic and vocational subjects through experience of real work. This practice has already been adopted in medicine, law and other fields. There is strong evidence that by bringing working and learning together students will perform better, and are better prepared for their working life.