Two flagship studio schools are to close and effectively be merged into the college that sponsors them, TES can reveal.
The Da Vinci Studio School of Science and Engineering opened in the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage in 2012, with the Da Vinci Studio School of Creative Enterprise opening a year later in nearby Letchworth.
The Hart Schools Trust, which runs the schools, said they had faced “real challenges”, which had led to the decision being made to close them in 2017. All occupationally focused post-16 programmes will be transferred to North Hertfordshire College, while A-level science and mathematics courses will move to Thomas Alleyne’s Academy in Stevenage.
Studio schools are specialist 14-19 institutions created to “address the growing gap between the skills and knowledge that young people require to succeed, and those that the current education system provides”, by focusing on teaching through “enterprise projects and real work” in partnership with local employers.
A number of closures
But the programme has faced challenges across the country, with a number of schools announcing their intention to close due to difficulties in recruiting sufficient students, including projects in Bradford, Clacton, Hull, Southampton, Nuneaton and Hinckley.
From September, North Hertfordshire College will assume responsibility for the delivery of the sixth-form creative arts, science and engineering programmes currently offered by the Da Vinci schools, which will close the following summer once their final Year 11 cohorts have completed their GCSEs.
Mark Lewis, managing director of the Hart Schools Trust, said: “We took the decision to close the Da Vinci studio schools following a thorough review of the tremendous work they’ve done, but also the real challenges they’ve faced. We are confident that the decision we have taken will enable us to deliver a revitalised and sustainable post-16 offer in the creative arts, science and engineering subject areas through NHC.”
College principal Matt Hamnett said: “Whilst it is a real shame that the studio schools will close in the summer of 2017, we will take forward many positives, insights and lessons from the schools as we embrace their post-16 provision in NHC.”
The news comes a week after NHC launched a “guarantee” that its 16-18 students would progress to work or further study within six months of completing their study programmes – or be given £1,000 by the college.