Rye Studio School to close over low pupil numbers

The Rye Studio School in East Sussex will close this summer after it failed to recruit even half of the pupils it needed.

It is the 24th studio school – 14-to-19 institutions with a vocational curriculum – to close or announce plans to close since the inception of the project.

According to trustees, the school has never managed to recruit more than 50 per cent of the pupils it needed, which affected its finances.

It opened in 2013 and had hoped to take on 300 pupils, but faced the kind of recruitment problems common among studio schools, many of which have struggled to persuade pupils to move at the age of 14. In light of its problems, it did not recruit any new pupils last September or for September 2018.

Trustees initially drew up plans to convert the school to a sixth form, but decided the move was “not financially viable”.

“It is with great regret that the school finds itself in this position,” said headteacher Barry Blakelock. “Despite all the efforts of trustees and dedicated staff, who have all done an excellent job, the school has never been fully utilised.”

“We have agreed, in principle, to the closure of Rye Studio School following a request from Rye Academy Trust,” said a Department for Education spokesperson. “A number of options have been explored but ministers have decided that the school, which has not admitted any new pupils for September 2017 or 2018, should close by the end of August 2018.”

The school, which as a result of its recruitment freeze last year now has only year 11 and year 13 pupils on roll, has arranged for careers support for current year 11 pupils looking for a new school.

Staff will be consulted on “redeployment or redundancy”, and a “listening period” for parents, staff and “interested persons” will run until July 5.