Pioneering Newcastle Studio West school receives top backing

Studio West school in Newcastle is due to open next year and has seen top employers from a range of sectors backing the new organisation

Principal designate of Studio West, Val Wigham, with Craig Melville, CCO and deputy CEO from OGN
Principal designate of Studio West, Val Wigham, with Craig Melville, CCO and deputy CEO from OGN

Leading businesses and employers in the North East have thrown their support behind a pioneering new school.

Studio West, set to be one of the region’s first studio schools for 13 to 19-year-olds, will guarantee every student a place at university, a job or an apprenticeship when they leave.

Now employers from a range of sectors have backed the new organisation, including OGN, engineering and construction firm Bam Nuttall, video games developer Eutechnyx, law firm Watson Burton LLP, the Baltic arts centre, motor retailer Benfield and retailer John Lewis.

Val Wigham, principal designate of Studio West, said the support of major employers was vital to help the school drive forward.

She added: “The early and strong support of powerful business leaders has convinced the Government to back the new studio school.

“Parents will be encouraged that important employers are behind the idea of a new type of learning in the North East. These businesses are showing faith in the concept we are pioneering, some are also backing us by offering paid job training places to our older students.”

Craig Melville, from OGN, said the company was pleased to back Studio West.

He added: “We want to actively help educators provide a school that will ensure students are ready for employment once they leave.

“We strongly support the ideas and philosophy behind this new school and would encourage parents to find out more and actively consider the options it presents to young people.”

Studio West, in Newcastle, is due to open in 2014. It will use real-life enterprise projects to teach students practical skills as well as academic subjects including English, maths and science. There will also be paid work placements linked directly to employment opportunities.

The project-based learning technique has been tried and tested successfully before. It was pioneered by High Tech High, in San Diego, California.

To help immerse youngsters in the world of work, businesses will have a direct input into the school’s culture and curriculum, with companies operating from an on-site enterprise centre and helping to create live projects for students to tackle.

The school, which will be sponsored by the Kenton Schools Academy Trust, will have its own governing body and structured curriculum. Its motto will be Learning That Connects.

Also backing the school are Northumbria, Durham and Sunderland Universities, Gateshead College, Hatton Gallery and engineering group British Engines.

The organisation is taking applications and is inviting expressions of interest from parents.

Val Wigham added: “By teaching students through real-life projects and immersing them in business culture, Studio West will be a school for the 21st century that is able to guarantee each and every student a place at university, a job or an apprenticeship when they complete their studies.

“We have a very limited number of places, so parents with children who will be 13, 14 or 16 in September 2014 and who are interested in sending them to Studio West should get in touch with us. We are taking applications now.”

To find out more or register for a consultation, call Val on 0191 214 2212 or visit


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