Basildon teenagers are set for a “groundbreaking” new educational experience after ministers approved plans for the borough’s first studio school.

The New Campus Basildon Studio School, for youngsters as young as 14, will open in September 2013 in a bid to help slash the borough’s high number of teenagers who are not in education or working.

Sponsored by Seevic College and supported by Anglia Ruskin University, the school will be in Church Walk House, on the existing £1million Seevic campus in the heart of Basildon town centre. It will cater for 340 teenagers and specialise in sports and leisure and health and social care.

This will be the first school of its kind in the borough and only the second in the region, with the Ockendon Studio Academy across the border in Thurrock set to open this September.

The schools are designed to help 14 to 19 year olds, who would benefit from a more vocational path rather than academic study. Although the school will offer GCSEs and A Levels, the emphasis will be on bridging the gap to the workplace with much of the timetable dedicated to outside work placements.

Sarah Wright, principal of Seevic College, which has its main base in Thundersley, said: “We are delighted to be embarking on this important project, which will benefit so many local children, parents and employers “The feedback we’ve had so far has been remarkable.

“It really motivates us to push forward and continue developing new ways of teaching and training, ensuring every young person has the opportunity to gain skills and qualifications relevant to local employment opportunities.”

The Government announced plans for a new wave of studio schools last year, amid fears too many teenagers are finishing full-time education without the skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

Local employers, including local nurseries, day centres and schools have already expressed their support for the school by offering work placements. Basildon Hospital will also be closely involved, offering lectures, mentoring programmes and work experience. Jayne Toplis, head of staff training at the hospital, said: “We’re keen to provide opportunities for the pupils to gain knowledge and experience of a hospital environment, through tours to various departments, work experience, interview practices and taster days in specialist areas.” The Basildon campus was one of 15 new studio schools rubber-stamped by ministers yesterday. They labelled the new facilities as “groundbreaking”. More details about how pupils will be referred or can apply will be announced later.

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