An exciting new secondary school offering vocational training alongside traditional academic qualifications has been given Government approval to open on the University of St Mark & St John campus in September 2015.
The Plymouth Studio School, which will be intentionally small and focussed, will foster a close-knit learning community specialising in sport, hospitality and tourism and leisure.
Once fully operational the Plymouth Studio School, which is a partnership between City College Plymouth, the University of St Mark & St John and businesses in the city, will cater for 300 students, aged between 14 and 19, studying on a range of academic and vocational qualifications.
The main difference with mainstream schools is that subjects are taught through projects designed with employers which combine classroom teaching with work placements.
Professor Cara Aitchison, Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Mark & St John, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting new partnership designed to support education, employability and the sustainability of inward investment to the region in the sport, tourism and hospitality sectors. The new School will be housed in a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility on the University of St Mark & St John campus with access to some of the best sporting and other education and training facilities in the South West.”
Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, commented: “The Studio School brings a new opportunity to the table for young people and its links to City College Plymouth and the University of St Mark & St John will add to the city’s richness. With three higher education institutions and an excellent FE college no-one could say that Plymouth is not a fantastic city for education and future employment options.”
Phil Davies, Principal of City College Plymouth and the lead sponsor of the new school, said: “Our vision is to create a vibrant place of learning, staffed by a team of excellent learning and personal coaches that will equip each individual student with the skills and confidence they need to achieve their full potential. The School will open in September 2015 with 100 students – 60 students in year 10 and 40 in year 12.”
Many local and national organisations have lent their support to the development, including Plymouth Argyle Football Club, Plymouth Raiders, Plymouth Albion Rugby Football Club, Plymouth City Council, Destination Plymouth, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Marine Aquarium, the National Trust, Plymouth Pavilions, the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Boringdon Hall Hotel, the Copthorne Hotel, the Holiday Inn and the Akkeron Group. All of these organisations feel that the studio school model, with the lifestyle services and the visitor economy as its focus, will be a great asset to the development of skills and recruitment in this area, providing a specialist education in a sector experiencing growth in our region.
Professor Aitchison, who also is Chair of the UK Government’s panel that assesses the quality and funding of university research in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism as part of the Research Excellence Framework, commented that City College Plymouth and her University and colleagues had undertaken extensive and detailed research to inform the preparation and developmentof the Plymouth Studio School’s vision.
She said: “The initiative has been based on employer need, listening and responding to our employers’ views, studying the Studio School experience nationwide and taking on-board feedback from prospective parents and students to inform our development of this proposal. We will create a curriculumthat combines a strong mix of academic, vocational and sector-specific professional qualifications to maximise future progression opportunities, structured around core project based learning and work experience; a combined curriculum which is unavailable elsewhere in the city.”
The green light for the Studio School comes only a few weeks after the University of St Mark & St John revealed plans to double in size over the next decade, including expansion of teaching and research in sport and tourism.
It is envisaged that students from Plymouth Studio School will go on to further or higher education programmes at either the University of St Mark & St John or City College Plymouth, retaining expertise and skills within the region to support the growing sport, tourism and hospitality sector of the economy.
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