Pioneering new school opens its doors

September 22, 2014 7:01 am

Vision Studio School

Nottinghamshire’s first-ever studio school has opened its doors to students. Vision Studio School, in Mansfield, welcomed its first students in a move heralded as “a new dawn for education in Nottinghamshire.”

Studio schools are a new type of school for 14-19 year-olds of all abilities that aim to bridge the gap between education and employment.  They teach the same core academic subjects as traditional schools but combine these with vocational qualifications delivered through project-based learning and work placements linked to local employment opportunities.

Sponsored by Vision West Nottinghamshire College, Vision Studio School has 125 students from Year 10 upwards who specialise in either engineering and transport, or health and care. There are plans for this to increase to a capacity of 300 students by its third year of operation.

The school is being supported by a host of employers from small and medium-sized enterprises to large public and private sector organisations that will mentor students deliver master-classes and provide regular work placements.

Year 10 students will spend one day per week in a work setting, rising to two days for students in Year 12.  The school plans to launch its first work placements before Christmas, once each student has completed a specially-tailored work-related learning programme to prepare them for the workplace.

Employer partners on board include Hall-Fast Industrial Supplies, Enable Care and Home Support, Lindhurst Engineering Ltd, Linney Print, DB Schenker, Mansfield District Council, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Nottingham City Transport and The University of Nottingham.

As well as preparing students for employment, the studio school will also enable progression to university-level study or an apprenticeship.

Its Principal, Andy Campbell, said: “This is the most exciting development I have been involved in throughout my 20 years in education.

“By combining academic and vocational qualifications with high-quality work placements, students will develop the skills and attributes that businesses need and have a competitive edge when it comes to getting a job.”

Mr Campbell continued: “The studio school offers something different to mainstream school and gives young people and their parents another option; particularly those who want to specialise in engineering and transport or health and care.

“It’s about helping students to focus on the subjects that will lead to employment in their chosen fields and enable them to make the successful transition from school to the world of work.

“This is fantastic for Ashfield and Mansfield and it’s great to see students looking forward to grasping the new and unique learning opportunities the studio school will provide.”

The studio school is located at the college’s former Chesterfield Road campus, which is currently undergoing a £1.1 million refurbishment to provide a ‘technology-rich’ 21st century learning environment including classrooms boasting multimedia equipment, interactive TVs, computer-aided design (CAD) system and 3D scanners and printers.

Each student will also be equipped with a tablet computer to aid their learning in the classroom and in the workplace.  Other facilities will include a project room where students will work alongside industry experts, employers and learning coaches, and a boardroom for presentations and challenges in the style of hit television show The Apprentice.

The school operates a 9am to 4.30pm ‘working day’ to mirror that of many workplaces and students wear smart business attire rather than a traditional uniform.  Its opening has been welcomed by the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber’s Chief Executive, George Cowcher, said: “The opening of Vision Studio School heralds a new dawn for education in Nottinghamshire and will play a crucial role in improving the way that local youngsters are prepared for the workplace.

“Many businesses still harbour a perception that young people simply aren’t prepared for the world of work and this new initiative will go some way to directly addressing those concerns.

“This issue will only be solved by the business and education communities working together in partnership to develop positive solutions.

“The new studio school is an important first step in helping to equip more young people with the skills that employers need, to enable them to find jobs with sustainable career prospects.”

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