The Midland Academies Trust has announced the closure of two of its “studio” schools, in Nuneaton and Hinckley, because of a failure to attract students. Between them, the two schools have capacity for 600 students, but have only managed to recruit 157.
Despite warnings from local teaching unions that there were not enough students in the area to go round, the two flagship studio schools were opened in 2012 and 2013 to great fanfares (Nuneaton was opened by Prince Andrew).
Studio schools, hailed as “revolutionary”, were yet another government initiative, designed for 14-18-year olds, and with an emphasis on vocational training and local business links. There is now a question mark over the survival of the other 43 studio schools, many of which are struggling.
Existing students at the schools have had to find other provision, in the case of years 10 and 12 immediately. Years 11 and 13 students will be allowed to stay on until this summer to take their exams. Around 30 staff will lose their jobs.
Studio schools are Free Schools, directly funded from the public purse and with no input from local authorities. Yet again money has been thrown at a new, untried and now failing venture, instead of improving funding to existing state schools, which are shown to work well. It is not surprising that free schools of various kinds are generally failing to recruit pupils, as the picture of school provision is so fragmented and confused.