Profits for the pupils

9th February 2007 at 00:00
Teachers will have to give up long holidays if they want to work in a new breed of 14 to 19 vocational schools being developed in at least seven local authorities.

The year-round "studio" schools would also mean big changes for pupils who would spend much of their time working in in-house businesses, receiving wages for the work they did.

The Young Foundation think-tank, which is developing the scheme with support from the Department for Education, says the schools, which could start to open from next year, will be run along business lines.

Teachers working with professional business staff would have to book annual leave with managers, instead of having their traditional 13-week holidays.

Geoff Mulgan, foundation director and Tony Blair's former head of policy, said local authorities were "reasonably confident" there would be no problem with new teacher contracts.

But Mary Bousted, general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she would oppose the schools. "Teachers have long holidays because they work longer hours than most people," she said. "If you run teachers on a business model you are not going to get the best out of them."

Mr Mulgan envisages there could eventually be a studio school in every local authority. So far, 30 councils have expressed an interest, with Sheffield, Oldham, Blackpool, Kirklees, South Tyneside, Barnsley and Newham having done so formally.

The 300-pupil schools will be small enough to be based in town and city centres as well as in shopping centres, and at least one football club, which Mr Mulgan would not name, has expressed an interest in having one based at its ground. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is another possible venue.

Each studio school will focus on a particular industry such as fashion, healthcare or construction. They will be attached to business or public sector organisations. The pupils will set up their own businesses and from 16 will be rewarded with wages from profits made.

Mr Mulgan said: "There is a fairly glaring mismatch between what the economy wants and what education seems to be providing."

Pupils will be be able to take A-levels and progress to good universities.

"The premise is that doing GCSE maths and applying it to the running of your business will actually enhance academic learning," he said.


Inspiration for studio schools has come from the US and Denmark.

New Technology high school, Napa Valley, California, was set up in 1996 by Silicon Valley employers frustrated with the lack of technologically skilled school leavers.

Financial support from the Bill Gates Foundation has allowed the model to be exported across the US, with a network of 26 new technology highs stretching from Alaska to Texas.

In Denmark in the 1970s, an experiment combining education and production led to the creation of 110 "production schools", bringing together practical experience with academic teaching.

They are mainly for youngsters with low educational attainment who attend for up to a year.

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