By Claire West

Thousands of pupils in England are set to benefit from high-quality academic study combined with practical learning as more Studio Schools and University Technical Colleges (UTCs) open this September.

The 11 new Studio Schools and three UTCs have the backing of business and industry, and offer young people an education that equips them with the skills employers want.

The figures also mean that, between September 2011 and September 2012, a total of 97 new UTCs, Studio Schools and Free Schools have been opened by passionate teachers, parents, charities, employers and education groups. These schools are helping to give power back to teachers to raise standards in education, and are providing greater choice for parents.

Studio Schools offer academic and vocational qualifications, but teach them in a practical way. Study is combined with work placements — which are often paid placements — with local and national employers who are involved in the school. These include Fulham FC, the BBC, and the National Grid.

UTCs are sponsored by a local university and employers, and they focus on providing technical education that meets the needs of modern business. Each has one or two specialisms — ranging from engineering, to manufacturing, to construction or bio-medical sciences.

Both UTCs and Studio Schools are part of the Government's drive to ensure the education system responds to demands from employers for the skills they need to grow and prosper.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

New Studio Schools and University Technical Colleges will ensure more young people get great jobs. They are a brilliant way for employers to get more involved in education so that young people can be better prepared than ever before for the world of work.

The UTCs and Studio Schools opening this September include:

Aston University Academy of Engineering UTC, Birmingham, which will focus on engineering and science through a partnership between Aston University, the Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET) and a range of industry partners, including the National Grid.

Hackney UTC, London, sponsored by Hackney Community College, the University of East London, BT and Homerton University Hospital, will specialise in medical technologies and new digital technologies, working closely with the pioneering start-up companies based in Hoxton.

Hull Studio School, Hull, sponsored by outstanding-rated Hull College, will focus on business and enterprise and will provide young people with the essential employability skills they need to enter the world of work, by working with local employers such as British Land and Humberside Police.

The Studio College for construction and building excellence, Stoke-on-Trent, will specialise in construction and give students the opportunity to learn in a small, supportive environment to get the qualifications and training they need to be work ready. Sponsored by Stoke-on-Trent College, the Studio School will work with a network of construction industry partners including Wates Construction.

UTCs and Studio Schools are new schools for 14- to 19-year-olds. Pupils of all abilities can choose to go to them at ages 14 or 16. These schools typically operate on business hours, and many have shorter school holidays.

Studio Schools offer academic and vocational qualifications to around 300 pupils. Study is combined with work placements (which may be paid placements at post-16) with local and national employers who are involved in the school. Learning in this way encourages students to develop skills like punctuality, good communication, reliability and team working, whilst gaining a strong grounding in English, maths and science.

David Frost CBE, Chair of the Studio Schools Trust, said:

I am delighted that eleven new Studio Schools are opening this September, and the enthusiasm of parents and students for these schools is extremely heartening.
Lack of work readiness amongst school leavers is a key issue for businesses up and down the country, and Studio Schools are designed to address this concern. With their unique combination of mainstream qualifications, real work, and the development of employability skills and entrepreneurialism, Studio Schools will play a vital role in providing young people with the skills and experience that our economy needs.

UTCs are sponsored by a local university and employers, and they focus on providing technical education. Each has one or two specialisms, and students split their time between studying core academic subjects and learning specific technical skills and qualifications.

Lord Baker, Chair of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, said:

The UTC curriculum is built around projects created by employers. This brings education to life — students understand not just what they are learning, but why — and where they can go next. It’s hugely exciting, hugely motivating and just what young people want.

Employers report that they are struggling to find the skills they are looking for in school leavers. In the May 2010 CBI employer survey, more than two thirds of employers (70 per cent) wanted to see the new Government make the employability skills of young people its top education priority.

Both UTCs and Studio Schools are part of the Government's drive to ensure the education system responds to demands from employers for the skills they need to grow and prosper. They will also increase choice for parents and pupils in communities across the country.