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Should we offer places to Year 7?

Tuesday 1st December, 2015

Should Studio West Offer Places To Students From The Start Of Year 7?

What Do You Think?

We would like to know your views on this proposal:

Studio West, in West Denton, Newcastle, is currently a 13-19 (Years 9 to 13) school for 300 students, sponsored by Kenton Schools’ Academy Trust, but we are consulting on our plans to take in 50 students in each Year 7 from September 2017 onwards, to become an 11-19 (Years 7 to 13) for 350 students.

What kind of school Is Studio West?

Studio West is a secondary school, but it is like no other school in Newcastle or even in England. The difference is best summed up in our motto: "Learning that connects."

The young lives of our current students are amazingly enriched as their learning connects with their personal ambitions for the future, through the strong connections the school makes with the work place, the community and the wider world.

For example: Studio West has currently 156 business and community partners, who offer regular work-placements to every single one of our students in a huge range of careers. These work-placements are connected with the examination courses and the project-learning that takes place within school. Our students are literally ‘learning on the job’. Not only that, in the Sixth Form the majority of work placements are paid!

The projects are based around real-life work-place essential questions which the business partners set and work on with the students, such as:

How do you develop a new brand identity for an International company, which will appeal to a younger (25-35 year old) target market demographic?

What is more, the projects are another example of what we mean by learning that connects. Studies that are completely separately taught in most secondary schools are joined up and connected in Studio West in our unique projects. For example, a Year 9 project on Othello which asked students to analyse how Shakespeare developed the complexities of Othello’s character, connects GCSE English Literature, Art & Design and Computer Science. This joined up thinking makes “deep learning” possible. Studio West is overflowing with important and fascinating essential questions, many of which cannot be answered in one traditional school subject. You will see over 1000 of them written up around the school everywhere, such as:

What factors shape our values and beliefs?


How do the media shape our view of the world and ourselves?

'Learning that connects' will last a lifetime and the “deep learning” ensures academic success at every turn. Another unique factor that we, at Studio West, are committed to protecting is that we are smaller than other secondary schools and always will be, even when we take students from Y7. That is vital for our connected learning; every student knows and is known by every member of staff. That makes for excellent care, excellent behaviour and excellent academic progress. But the students still have the opportunity to study for the full range of 'EBacc' GCSEs and Advanced Level courses, expertly taught.

Studio West also offers a highly developed and effective skills development programme called CREATE. This scheme ensures that students acquire employability skills in abundance. They learn how to relate to others, how to communicate effectively, how to apply themselves in many situations and how to be a unique and enterprising individual. Studio West places great emphasis on these skills and it is a real pleasure to watch our young people grow in confidence and capability.

What exactly is the proposed change and why?

The proposal is that Studio West should accept applications for places in Year 7 (as well as Y9 & Y12 as now) in September 2017 and September 2018. From 2019 onwards there would be no new recruitment to Y9, only Y7 and Y12.

It was Government policy to encourage the opening of Studio Schools across the country, which we were keen to do here in Newcastle. However, they believed that Studio Schools should take students from 14-19 (Y10-13). We always thought this was too late and applied successfully for Studio West to start at 13 (Y9). We opened Studio West in 2014 and it is working brilliantly in just the way we planned. We think it would be even more successful if we could take students at 11 years old (Y7). There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Most of the children in the area and the region change schools at 11, at the end of Y6. It is better for Studio West, for children and their parents and for other schools if they do not change schools more than necessary, unless of course they wish to. At present parents who think the unique educational approach of Studio West would suit their child cannot make that choice at the end of Primary School, so they must choose another secondary school first. Once their child is settled at secondary school many of those parents will be rightly concerned about whether to unsettle him or her again by another school move, even if that would be a better educational choice.
  2. Furthermore it would be better for the other local secondary schools, which now lose students they planned to take through to GCSE’s and beyond. This would not happen if the proposal is implemented.
  3. Although there are plenty of secondary places for all Newcastle’s children at present, the increase in numbers which is currently affecting the Primary Schools will come into secondary schools over the next few years, causing a shortage. The 50 new places at Studio West will help this, without creating a glut. If the current age range continued, it would not help to solve the problem at all, because we would not be adding any places in the lower years of secondary schooling.

Are there any disadvantages of the proposal?

Not that we can see. Students in Years 7 to 9 cannot take work placements (that is against national regulations), but as explained above, that is only one aspect of the school’s partnership with business and the younger students would get just as many advantages, if not more, from the problem-solving projects and other support that businesses give. We already have Y9 students and their curriculum is working very well indeed.


Let us know what you think

Please write to:

Val Wigham
Studio West
West Denton Way
Newcastle upon Tyne

or email to:

Give your views and answer this question:

“Should Studio West admit children in Year 7 from 2017?”

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