We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This from Sharon Lake & Amy Lockwood on behalf of parents of the Isle of Wight Studio School. Ed
We are seriously concerned that the Department of Education has agreed in principle to the closure of the Isle of Wight Studio School.
A generation of Island Students have been let down over the past six years with the transition from a three tier to a two tier system culminating with the new secondary schools being put into special measures.
Providing quality education
In March 2016 the Department for Education evaluated which identified areas where children are making the least progress and had the poorest access to high-quality schools.
Unsurprisingly our Local Authority District Category is six; however we believe the Isle of Wight Studio School does provide a quality education and that it should be saved for the following reasons:
Choice and opportunity
The Studio School has been a breath of fresh air. It provides a very effective alternative education for an important number of students on the Island.
Delivering a challenging, broad, balanced, relevant and exciting curriculum along with numerous opportunities such as attendance at workshops, exhibitions and universities as well as working closely with the over 300 Island businesses to provide students with high quality work based experience which teaches essential interpersonal skills from day one; alongside academic qualifications ensuring that post 16 opportunities are fully utilised.
Preparing for the world of work
Students also apply their learning and gain valuable experience and key employability skills through enterprise projects and engage in meaningful work placements in excess of 50 days during years 10 and 11, which far exceeds the Department of Education’s proposals in the careers strategy which suggests “seven meaningful encounters with employers during their secondary education”.
More astonishingly it also outstrips the recommendation of providing 45 days’ work placement at Level 3 study.
If the School closes there will be a considerable negative impact on this business community and families who recognise the value the School offers young people when they are preparing for the world of work.
This is further supported by the significant amount of students who go directly into apprenticeships on leaving the School, often with their work placement employers who have created the apprenticeship especially for that young person, thus increasing employers who offer apprenticeship post 16 on the Island. Examples of these include Hyundai, Volvo, Boots Pharmacy, Lallow’s Boat Builders and IFPL.
Supports national and local government initiatives – Unlocking Talent
Rather than being closed, the Department of Education should seriously be considering highlighting and promoting this school as a flagship of how an outstanding, modern school provides access to improved opportunities; particularly as its provision matches very closely with the recent Government Social Mobility through Education Plan, Dec 2017 – Unlocking Talent and Fulfilling Potential (see below).
In particular, the ways of working, identifying and building lasting success through partnership. Students also complete their Duke of Edinburgh Award which includes “enterprise activities, volunteering and social development” another key principle of the report.
‘Eco Vision 2030’
The Isle of Wight Studio School model also fits in exactly with the ‘Eco Vision 2030’ document, jointly produced by the IOW Council and the IOW Chamber Of Commerce which identifies the opportunities of upskilling young people, creating more knowledge-based and technically skilled jobs, in turn driving up wages on the Island.
The Vision is about raising the standards of education, to better equip students with key employability skills, plus act as lever to help attract better investment in the Island. The poor publicity and mainland perception (generally speaking) around secondary education on the Island has been cited as a barrier to investment.
The Studio School is a key part of the strategy to fix the perception and equip students with the skills to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities for the general advancement of the Island and its economy and should therefore be supported by both local and national government and the Department of Education.
Success for all
Whilst the school has not as yet had an Ofsted Inspection, the atmosphere and energy you feel when you enter the school says it all. Students are inspired; engaged, enthusiastic, impeccably well behaved and eager to learn.
It is in stark contrast to what they experienced in the larger failing Island Secondary schools where they had become disengaged and many were not achieving their full potential.
Top three for Progress 8 results
Having only been open for three years, it was judged as average in the 2017 Progress 8 results.
This was in-line with results nationally; and was achieved within a three day ‘academic’ working week (day four is spent on a Work Experience placement and day five is used for Vocational study and enrichment) and currently does not include 6th form progress.
The IW Studio School was one of only three out of the eight secondary schools to achieve this. None were judged as making good or better progress.
Nationally, the Isle of Wight Studio School was tenth out of thirty four studio schools. It performed even better against studio schools and UTCs, being fourteenth out of sixty seven.
These figures are significantly better than how the Isle of Wight trust and academy secondary schools performed against similar schools nationally. The School’s destination figures are excellent, with all students going on to meaningful post 16 opportunities including apprenticeships and post 16 academic studies leading onto a range of careers on the Island and further afield.
The School has prepared students for prestigious colleges including Brockenhurst College, Richard Taunton College, Southampton and Welbeck Military College.
Succeed and thrive
The School’s curriculum and approach enables vulnerable students who have previously made insufficient progress to succeed and thrive in a smaller pastoral based environment and enables them to reach their full potential and access higher level Technical qualifications which would have previously been out of reach.
Please visit this school before any decision to close it is finalised and work with the Head and Parents to investigate the opportunity to change to adapt in order for it to continue and set up as a temporary stand-alone academy until a multi-agency academy can be joined or the school is transferred to LA control.
Image: © Isle of Wight Studio School