Numerous businesses have complained British schools do not adequately prepare pupils for the world of work.
But proposals for a new school seek to more than redress the balance, by swapping school uniforms for “business dress” and an extended school day that mirrors work hours of 8.30am-5pm.
Weston College, which plans the innovative £10 million Science and Enterprise College to serve North Somerset, says it will deliver “a new model of learning”.
With 800 pupils, some as young as 14, it will focus on science, technology, engineering and maths and include a strong business ethos, including pupils wearing suits.
North Somerset Council, local businesses and universities have already pledged support for the school, which could open as early as September 2014 in Locking Parklands, Weston-Super-Mare.
Weston College is now hoping that as many prospective parents as possible will answer a questionnaire and help shape the vision for an educational establishment that will support the economic development of the area.
The longer working day would include time for homework and “enrichment activities”, and specialised academic, vocational and technical training.
University staff will provide top-level teaching for high fliers, while employers will offer practical training and apprenticeships. For example, close links will be forged with the NHS, and pupils will be able to follow the progress of a ‘virtual patient’ as part of their science studies.
Weston College and partner institutions will deliver the new model to pupils aged 14 and upwards. At the same time, however, parents’ views will be sought on the ideal age range in accordance with Government criteria for new models of learning.
In the next few weeks college researchers will visit supermarkets, shopping centres and other public places to canvass opinion and gauge strength of support.
Weston College principal and chief executive Dr Paul Phillips said: “Weston College is committed to working with business, industry and the community to create innovative learning solutions. We have discussed this concept with our partners and prospective learners. We are proposing a model of learning that will engender employability skills alongside an entrepreneurial learning environment.”
Alison Kingscott, from Weston Area Health NHS Trust, said: “This is a fresh and imaginative approach to education in North Somerset and we look forward to a fruitful partnership, along with the prospect of being able to take on students with real employability skills.”
Weston College includes the University Campus which opened in 2007, the South West Skills Campus, which opened in 2010, and a Business Enterprise Centre.
Parents interested in plans for the North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College should call 01934 411407 or visit www.nsetc.co.uk for more information and to fill in the questionnaire.