JOBS are at risk at a specialist school in Bicester as it tries to secure its long-term survival.

Bicester Technology Studio has admitted it has struggled to attract enough students to keep it financially secure, and is currently consulting with staff and unions about potentially 'rationalising some roles.'

The school teaches about 120 pupils aged 14-19, and opened in Queens Avenue in 2016, to 'prepare students for careers in local growth industries.'

In March, Oxfordshire County Council's education scrutiny committee raised concerns that the school was under threat of closure.


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This was denied by the Activate Learning Education Trust, which runs the school, which stressed that Bicester Technology Studio is 'very much part of [the trust's] long-term plans.'

Last week staff were allegedly told that some positions could be cut, however.

A spokesman for the trust said: "The aim of the Technology Studio has always been to provide a first rate technical education for the young people of Bicester, providing an option previously unavailable within other local school settings.

"However, since its opening, recruitment to the Technology Studio hasn’t been at the levels we would have hoped for, which has obviously had an impact on its financial sustainability within the current funding model."

In March the trust revealed that the studio school had taken on the same headteacher and governors as The Bicester School, which is on the same site and is part of the same academy group.


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The spokesman said: "Activate Learning Education Trust is committed to maintaining this offering to the young people of Bicester and so, after a significant amount of work to review the situation, has taken the step of streamlining the leadership and governance of both the Technology Studio and its neighbour, The Bicester School.

"This step is being taken to help ensure their continued viability as technical education settings.

"Not only will this help the school to make some of the savings it needs to function within the financial model it operates in, but it will also help ensure the two schools are better able to recognise when learners want to change the direction their education is taking."

However, it appears that might not have been enough to make ends meet.

The trust's spokesman added: "Moving forwards, there will be further consultation with staff and unions at the school to discuss how structures might change within the school, and the outcome of this may be the rationalisation of some roles within the Technology Studio."

Bicester Tech is one of two 'studio schools' in Oxfordshire alongside Space Studio Banbury.


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Studio schools are sponsored by existing schools or colleges, teach a maximum of 300 students, and have strong links with employers.

They are similar to another type of free school called university technical colleges.

County councillor John Howson asked a question at Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet meeting on Tuesday, querying what would happen to pupils if Bicester Technology Studio had to close come the next academic year.

Responding, the cabinet's education lead Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said: "Activate Learning Education Trust have confirmed that this school will be open in September.

"Like any other school if we are notified that a school is not planning to reopen we would support the pupils to find alternative places as swiftly as possible."

Studio schools were introduced in 2010 as a form of free school, which are types of academies – state schools run by academy trusts rather than councils.

According to research by Schools Week, 21 studio schools nationwide had closed as of February.