Studio schools

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THE issue of vocational education is one that has dogged this country for more than a generation.

In fact, ever since the failed introduction of technical schools as part of the old, tripartite 11-plus system, vocational education has too often been treated as secondary to academic success, or – more recently – as a mere tool to help boost a school’s standing in the league tables.

However, with youth unemployment soaring – and Yorkshire having the highest proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training – if ever there was a time to start taking vocational education seriously, particularly in this region, it is now.

The sooner that studio schools can fulfil their impressive aims, therefore, the better. This is why it is encouraging that more institutions are building on the success of the pilot school launched in Huddersfield in 2010, with Bradford College planning a major expansion of its own studio-school programme and another planned by Goole High School and Selby College.

Aimed at resolving the dislocation between education and employment which has bedevilled British schooling for so long, these schools – each with their own specialism usually linked to the strengths and needs of the local area – are another experiment at a time when the secondary-education system is already in a state of flux.

Such has been the scale of failure in the past, however, that new thinking is now desperately needed.