What is a studio school?

The simple answer is – yet another kind of academy (it seems).

The Department says this:

“Studio Schools are an innovative new model of 14 to 19 year-old educational provision. They are small schools – typically with around 300 pupils – delivering mainstream qualifications through project based learning.

Students work with local employers and a personal coach, and follow a curriculum designed to give them the employability skills and qualifications they need in work, or to take up further education.”

The Studio Schools Trust says this:

“Studio Schools are a new type of state school model, designed to equip young people with the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to succeed in life and work. They are at the forefront of innovation in the English education system, offering a bold new approach to learning rooted in the real world.

Five years in the making, Studio Schools have been developed in partnership with local and national employers, the country’s leading education agencies, government, as well as local partners from up and down the country. September 2010 was a landmark moment for the project with the opening of the first Studio Schools in the world.

In the coming years new schools will open across the country and, as the map to the left outlines, we have been approached by potential partners in every region of England. The Studio Schools Trust has bold plans for Studio Schools and, working closely with our local partners, we aim to establish a large network of schools across Britain.

It is not clear but, at heart (and as a matter of law), they seem to be academies.

That means they operate using (and are defined by) funding agreements.

But, as far as I can see, there is no published model funding agreement for studio schools.

But it should be available under the Freedom of Information Act.

That said, the issues about enforcing the funding agreement are likely to be the same as for other types of academy.

Although, like other academies, they will of course be subject to the general rules on discrimination including disability discrimination and subject to the equality duty and required to act compatibly with human rights.

But other details, like the law on admissions, exclusions, the curriculum, and so on will all depend on their particular funding agreement. If anyone has a copy of one and wants to share it (or any other information about the legal aspects of studio schools), that would be very helpful.

  2 comments for “What is a studio school?

  1. Chris Carr
    February 10, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I am wondering whether a Studio School could be a vehicle for vocational education? I have past success in Young Apprenticeships and NVQs for 14-19 schools.

  2. Alex Line
    February 10, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    I recently did an exclusions review hearing before the governing body of a Studio School on behalf of a pupil / parent. I did have access to the School’s funding agreement in advance of the hearing. Incidentally, I have noticed now that the DfE website does have information regarding model funding agreements, which probably post dates DWQC’s article:

    http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/technical/a00200203/funding-agreement (I have not considered this link in any detail, but forward it for the assistance of others).

    My interpretation of the definitions section of the funding agreement for the Studio School in my case was that it was by definition an Academy, which is consistent with DWQC’s general analysis. The document was somewhat convoluted on this point, and the drafting was by no means as clear as it could have been. The agreement in question also expressly referred to the fact that the 2012 Guidance regarding admissions and exclusions applied. Interestingly, despite this, the Studio School in question was not aware at the time of the exclusion that the 2012 Guidance applied to them and at one stage expressly maintained that the same did not apply to it because it was an independent school. This arguably casts some light on the lack of understanding about this type of School.

    I thought I would provide this brief update of DWQC’s article because, prior to this hearing, I had had no contact or dealings with Studio Schools in a professional capacity or otherwise, and found the general information about them online to be fairly limited compared to other types of Academies. I hope this update is of some assistance to those who encounter similar issues.

    Alex Line, 3 Paper Buildings.

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