BRITAIN'S first specialist school to train teenagers to work in the travel and hospitality industry is to close next summer after only attracting a handful of pupils this year.

A total of 25 students are at the Bradford Studio School in Thornton Road - which is highly distinctive as it has an aeroplane fuselage attached to the building.

The school was opened in 2012 as the International Food and Travel Studio with the aim of accommodating 300 teenagers, aged 14 to 19, with a focus on offering vocational qualifications including GCSEs, A-Levels and BTEC Diplomas with specialisms in international food and travel.

Announcing the decision to axe it, its operator the Bradford College Educational Trust (BCET), said pupils were being transferred to Samuel Lister Academy, which is also run by the trust, to complete their studies while the Thornton Road school will continue as an "onsite specialist facility" until July, when it will fully close.

The front end of a Boeing 737 aircraft fuselage lifted into the grounds of the school in November 2012

Shortly after the school's opening a 32ft long and 12ft wide fuselage from a Boeing 737 aircraft was installed as a way of teaching travel and tourism-related lessons, including cabin crew and aviation operations. The fuselage was purchased for £25,000.

Aircraft will provide a realistic classroom for International Food and Travel Studio students

Last year the school was judged to "require improvement" by Ofsted, with inspectors citing disappointing results in leisure and tourism, both areas of specialism for the school.

At the time, its head teacher Jean Watt said the report contained many "encouraging" comments about the new school.

In a statement BCET said: "This difficult decision has been reached after spending time assessing the school and in consultation with the Department for Education.

"The school has faced a decline in student numbers due to lack of local demand, alongside financial challenges, issues around staffing capacity and running costs, and so with regret the Studio School is no longer financially viable."

Richard Wightman, chairman of BCET, added: “It is with regret that we have made the decision to close Bradford Studio School. The wellbeing and success of students at the school is paramount and BCET will continue to support students with the continuation of their studies and the successful transition to the next step in their education or career.

"Students, their parents/carers and staff have been consulted with and BCET will continue to keep open lines of communication with everyone affected.

"The Studio School will continue to provide high quality education for students until the end of the academic year and until their courses reach completion; however students will also be fully supported should they wish to transfer to an alternative education provider to complete their studies."

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, executive for education and skills on Bradford Council, said: "Even though there was only a small number of places there, it's still a shame that Bradford College's Studio School has decided to close, especially when we know there is a need for more secondary school places across the Bradford district.

"The Council is already working with schools to look at solutions for how more places might be provided. We are also in conversation with the Education Funding Agency, which funds school places, about the possible creation of new schools within the district."


Ian Murch, Bradford spokesman for the National Union of Teachers, said: "I am sad for the pupils having been disrupted by this. It goes to show that if you are planning for school places then the decisions ought to be in the hands of the council.

"The investment of 300 school places wasn't in the right place, it would have been better spent in creating places in other schools. The model for studio schools set up by the Government mostly hasn't worked, children need some stability. When children go to secondary school they don't want to leave and start another school when they are only 14.

"It hasn't worked the way it was supposed to."

A DfE spokesman said: "From January all staff and pupils will relocate to Bradford College’s Samuel Lister site to ensure students can complete their studies with minimum disruption.

"The department continues to closely monitor plans to ensure all students are supported with their future education, training and employment options, including, where appropriate, offers to continue further education with Bradford College.”