Accenture boss Bob Paton has been appointed chairman of governors at a pioneering new school, aimed at bridging the gap between education and work.
Paton, who is North East managing director of the management consultancy and technology services firm, will take up the role at Newcastle’s Studio West when it opens in September.
Inspired by High Tech High in California, the school, for 13 to 19-year-olds, guarantees students who complete their education there a place at university, a job or an apprenticeship.
The environment, which is designed to be more like a workplace than a school, will have close links to the North East business community and will run a curriculum including real life projects set by companies.
Paton, who has worked for Accenture for more than 20 years, has specialised in the implementation of large-scale IT systems and has a particular interest in driving forward the IT skills agenda in the North East.
He is responsible for the Accenture apprenticeship programme and is a NAS Apprenticeship Ambassador for the region.
Before joining Accenture, Paton, who was born and bred in the North East, was a civil servant for 20 years, spending 13 working in IT, during which time he focused on the implementation and delivery of major systems.
He said: “I am honoured to be asked to take the role of chair of governors at Studio West and to be involved in this project from the very start.
“The school is the first of its kind in Newcastle and is set to be an extremely interesting and exciting institution for the region’s businesses.
“It is a huge opportunity for employers to communicate and influence the education sector on the skills they’d like to see in young people, and to help shape the curriculum to ensure students acquire the skills they need to get ahead in today’s increasingly competitive labour market.”
Val Wigham, principal designate of Studio West, said: “We are delighted to have Bob as chair of governors.
“As one of the North East’s leading business people, with experience in mentoring and championing apprentices, he is the ideal candidate for the job.
“He has an intrinsic understanding of not only the skills businesses look for in new recruits, but also of the potential that young people can offer employers.
“Bob is a fantastic role model, businessman and leader and I am sure he will be a real asset to our school.”
Studio schools represent a new concept in education, seeking to provide young people with the skills and knowledge they will need for future success in the workplace.
Studio West will 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.