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Work experience and top facilities at new studio school

IKB studio school students are taking learning to a whole new level in their brand new building

Posted by Stephanie Broad | April 06, 2016 | Bricks & mortar

Students and staff at Keynsham's IKB School, in Bristol, moved into their £3.4 million state-of-the-art building this March.  

The school now has top quality specialist facilities to deliver its curriculum, which is focused on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

The 65 students who joined IKB when it opened in September 2015 are delighted with their new base and the opportunities it offers to develop their skills in computing, engineering and science. 

Principal Debbie Gibbs said: “They are thrilled to be here. They enjoy using equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters and love the integrated technology, with Apple TVs everywhere and touch screens in every workshop and classroom. It is such an inspirational working environment.” 

IKB will eventually have up to 300 students, aged 14 to 18, following an academic curriculum to equip them with the high quality skills, experience and qualifications they need for their working lives.

A unique feature is the links with employers; younger students do a day's work experience every fortnight and sixth-formers do one day a week. The school is fostering strong relationships with major local employers including Buro Happold, Kier, Arup, Hartwell Jaguar and the Ministry of Defence.

IKB, named after the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is one of six schools in the Wellsway Multi Academy Trust. It spent its first few months in temporary accommodation at the neighbouring Wellsway School.  

The trust's chief executive, Andrea Arlidge, said: “The IKB Studio School is a significant addition to educational provision available for young people in this area and it is fantastic to see the school moving into its iconic new building. 

“The trust is delighted by the progress the school has made since it opened last September thanks to the hard work and commitment of its excellent staff and students. The vision behind this new school is very exciting and it will make a significant difference to the future prospects of its students.”

IKB's partnership with the neighbouring Wellsway School gives it significant advantages. While all IKB Year 10 and 11 students study a core curriculum of English language and English literature, maths, biology, physics and chemistry and choose from a range of STEM GCSE and BTEC options, if an individual wishes to choose a subject such as history, art or a language they can join classes at Wellsway. 

IKB students have the benefit of smaller classes, as well as a bespoke coaching and mentoring programme to help them identify their ambitions and develop the resilience and independence to fulfil their potential.

“We expect high standards of behaviour and responsibility, with an emphasis on collaboration inside and outside the classroom,” continues Gibbs. “IKB is not an easy option. It is challenging and we set high target grades, but students who have a passion for STEM subjects and are willing to put in the effort will have a rich and valuable experience.

“Our aim is to give our students the edge when they are competing for the best places to follow their aspirations, whether that's a Russell Group university, one of the new universities, or a higher level apprenticeship.”

IKB was set up under the studio school programme, which aims to drive innovation by bringing together talented and highly motivated teachers, outstanding facilities and industry connections. The STEM specialism is in recognition of the shortage locally of recruits with qualifications, skills and experience in engineering, technology and science.

The school also opens students' eyes to the vast range of career opportunities in STEM, including medicine, architecture and emerging technologies.

IKB has streamlined the studio school model to fit into an 8.30am-3.30pm day. Year 10 and 11 students wear uniform and, like many larger schools, it operates a house system and vertical tutoring. 

The offer is proving popular with potential students. Gibbs concludes: “We are delighted with the number of applications we have already had for September 2016. It is especially pleasing that as many girls as boys are seeking places in year 10.”     

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