The Wellsway Multi Academy Trust has announced that The Bath Studio School will close in 2020, blaming the decision on a lack of demand for the type of education it provides.
The Wellsway Multi Academy Trust (WMAT/Trust) announced yesterday, Wednesday 13th February, that Ministers from the Department for Education have made a final decision to close The Bath Studio School (TBSS) at the end of the summer term in 2020.
The consent to close follows a five-week listening period last year, and discussions with WMAT, subsequent to the Trust’s initial announcement on 23rd October 2018, and will allow pupils to complete the qualifications they are currently undertaking.
The Bath Studio School (TBSS) opened in September 2014 and was the first studio school to open in the West of England area.
However, as WMAT has previously indicated and despite considerable effort, the school, which has a creative and digital specialism, has never been able to recruit enough students to ensure it is viable.
Since 2014, the school has been operating at a capacity of 47% or less and pupil numbers are forecast to fall further.
As a result of this lack of demand in the local educational environment, The Bath Studio School has struggled to meet its costs, is not educationally sustainable, and has required considerable subsidy and financial support from WMAT, a position that it says is unsustainable going forward.
Both the Trust and Department for Education (DfE) reviewed a range of alternative options to keep The Bath Studio School open, but none were deemed practical and Ministers decided closure was the only option.
The Bath Studio School will close with effect from the end of the summer term 2020, thereby allowing all current students to complete the courses and qualifications they have enrolled on.
No further students will be admitted to the school from September 2019. As WMAT has previously indicated, it will work individually with students to support their on-going education and transition and will continue to be available to talk to their parents/carers.
WMAT will also provide advisory support for Bath Studio School staff, and will look to the possibility of their redeployment to another Trust school.
Plans to expand Aspire Academy, a special school for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH), which shares a site with TBSS, are already underway, reflecting the significant need for additional special school places in Bath and North East Somerset.
Andrea Arlidge, the Chief Executive of WMAT, said: “The decision by Ministers to consent to the closure of TBSS reflects the challenges that the school faces – medium and long-term.
“Ultimately, there is simply not enough demand in the Bath area for the type of education that TBSS provides.
“While closure of the school has now been confirmed for August 2020, we remain fully committed to our students and staff while at TBSS and as they look to the future.
“We remain excited by the potential of Aspire Academy, our special school that shares the site and building with TBSS. We are aiming to further develop Aspire to provide much needed special school places for children and young people on the autistic spectrum with challenging needs.
“Through our studio school in Keynsham, IKB which is focused on STEM subjects, we also remain committed to the studio school concept for particular subjects and students.”