Newcastle school to bridge the gap between education and work

A pioneering new school has opened its doors in Newcastle as the first academic year gets under way

Val Wigham Head teacher at Studio West in West Denton, Newcastle
Val Wigham Head teacher at Studio West in West Denton, Newcastle

A new school aimed at bridging the gap from classroom to career has opened in the North East.

Studio West, in Newcastle, caters for around 300 14 to 19-year-olds and combines occupational learning with traditional qualifications in core subjects, including English and maths.

The school is sponsored by Kenton Academy Trust and businesses are to have a direct input into the school’s culture and curriculum, as well as providing regular work experience placements.

The school’s aim is to immerse students in the world of work to give them a real competitive edge in the employment market.

Studio West principal Val Wigham said: “Studio West School will revolutionise the way students are taught.

“Our pioneering and bold approach, which embraces projects set by business partners and regular work experience placements, will ensure that our students are work-ready when they leave.

“Post-16 students will be guaranteed a two-day-a-week work placement and we’re already oversubscribed across all age groups.

“Our staff, business partners, and students and their parents are looking forward to a bright and exciting future with the opening of Studio West.”

The school is inspired by High Tech High, in San Diego, California, which has been successfully teaching students through project-based learning for 15 years.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Jeremy Middleton, who owns North East-based investment company Middleton Enterprises, is one of Studio West’s business supporters.

He said: “Students who are ready for employment when they leave school are vital to the region’s economic wellbeing.

“Hundreds of businesses across the region need young people with the right attitude and right skills for work.

“We have young people with capability but we still have a skills shortage. Many employers cannot get enough of the right people here in the North East.

“But most employers want to hire young people from here.

“I think and hope young people will support the school.

“Studio West’s business-focused educational concept, where employability skills lie at the heart of all aspects of the curriculum, will help equip employees of tomorrow with skills and knowledge that are relevant and related to the real world.”

Students, of all abilities, will be taught academic, occupational and practical skills at Studio West as well as having regular placements at local companies.

It will guarantee students, who complete their education at Studio West, a place at university, a job or an apprenticeship.

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