Korean delegates see an Ockendon revolution

A NEW schooling model adopted in South Ockendon is only seven-weeks-old – but is already drawing attention from the other side of the world.

The up-and-coming studio school model, used at the Ockendon Studio School, has been recognised as far away as South Korea, with nine top professors and principals travelling 5,500 miles from the country’s capital Seoul to the Thurrock town to see it in action.

Their visit was to study the idea of the studio school and report back to their country as to whether it was a model that could be adopted there.

A studio school is for 14 to 19- year-olds and has no more than 300 students, offering academic and vocational qualifications.

It operates more like a workplace than a school and works closely with local employers as well as offering paid work experience.

The £1.3million Ockendon Studio School opened in September, after it was granted permission to open in 2011. It is already making strides in forging local links.

Barbara King, executive principal of the Ockendon Academy and Ockendon Studio School, said the visit showed how far the school had come since it opened seven weeks ago.

She said: “This all started as a crazy idea but we have come on so far in the short time we have been open and this is evident by the fact this South Korean delegation has chosen to visit us above anyone else.

“The advantage of having a school within a school is you can develop one thing here and move it across to the academy so every student benefits from the progress.

“Our motto is ‘be the best you can be’ and that is what we ask of our students. The studio school has given us an added dimension and it is already proving so valuable.”

The studio school boasts 10 classrooms, a learning base centre where students can unwind and study and a large boardroom, where they can speak to potential employers in a business environment. The Ockendon Studio School currently has 120 students on its roll although it will accept 75 at the end of each year from schools across the borough.

Jong hyub Choi, director at the Seoul Institute of Technology and Education, said he and the rest of the delegation were very impressed with what they had seen.

“We have 15 to 30 years experience and we are looking to make reforms to the way we teach students in South Korea. We want to look at ways to improve and we think this is one of those ways.

“There are three aspects of the studio school model we like.

“The smaller schools, the individuality of students and the will to achieve. We are very impressed by this school.”

The model is thought to have attracted interest from as far afield as India, China, Brazil and Peru although it has yet to leave the UK.

Rosie Clayton, representative of the Studio School Trust, said: “We started this model after noticing two trends in particular – that young people often weren’t coming out of school with the right attitude and, in many employers cases, the right level of education.

“Coming here and listening to the students speak about their ambitions and determination show it is a success and is rowing all the time.”

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