Walsall Studio School opened in 2013 in response to the overwhelming need for a different approach to education and training for students in Walsall and the surrounding areas. It is the first and only Studio School serving the Black Country and surrounding areas. Local businesses and employers help design and shape the school curriculum and educational opportunities for students throughout the year.
As one of the most successful 14-19 Academies in the country Walsall Studio School students study GCSEs and other technical, vocational subjects in Y10 and Y11 followed by A Levels and vocational diplomas in the sixth form. Since opening the school has seen 60% of students progressing onto university or further study and 40% directly into employment including apprenticeships. The school’s value added / progress score is significantly above the national average within the top 5% of 14-19 academies in the country.
The studio school prides itself on transforming young people from school students to young, creative professionals ready for the world of work. It is a small school of 300 students and places significant emphasis on tailoring educational projects for individual students. Recognising that every student is unique, the studio school personalises learning experiences that enable students to make accelerated progress.
As well as a strong commitment to academic rigour and vocational excellence, the school (through it’s team of personal coaches) invests significantly in the personal development, support and wellbeing of students. Students describe the studio school as a community they belong to not just a school they attend (Ofsted 2015) and make a positive contribution to the local community and wider society through a range of innovative projects and events (both entrepreneurial and creative) throughout each year.
Mr Dan Parkes is the founding Principal of Walsall Studio School. Having led the studio school successfully through the pre-opening stage into the funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education, Mr Parkes has continued to lead the school through a series of external reviews and inspections including a full section 5 Ofsted Inspection with Good and Outstanding judgements.
With a proven track record of delivering new academies Mr Parkes leads the Mercian Trust’s work to establish new free schools including the Ladder School (Alternative Provision Free School) scheduled to open in September 2018.
Mr Parkes is the Executive Chair of the National Studio Schools Network and lead contact with government ministers, officials and business leaders for the studio schools movement.
Before undertaking his current roles Mr Parkes was a successful senior leader in Further and Higher Education responsible for large staff teams at multiple campuses throughout Greater Birmingham. His curriculum leadership experience and interests include work in Commercial Enterprise, Computing, IT & Telecommunications and Creative and Performing Arts – where his team won the National TES Award for Outstanding Innovation in Teaching and Learning for it’s work breaking down barriers between subject areas to deliver real live projects for students in partnership with employers.
Mr Parkes has a reputation for driving improvements in student experiences including technology-enabled learning and has worked on national pilot programmes with IBM and other leading technology companies.
Mr Parkes holds postgraduate qualifications in Education and Leadership & Management, a BA (Hons) Music and a Graduate Diploma in Music Performance from the Guildhall School of Music. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a trustee of a number of local and national charities that work to elevate poverty, sickness and distress, and advance education particularly through the arts and creative industries.