Studio Schools are a type of Free School. They are part of the Academies Programme, and are funded by the taxpayer, non-selective, free to attend and not controlled by a local education authority. While this is also true of most other academies and free schools, Studio Schools are collectively distinctive in a number of ways. Studio Schools are sponsored by existing schools, colleges, and community groups. However, existing schools cannot convert to become a Studio School – all Studio Schools have to be stand alone schools with no direct transfer intake of pupils. Studio Schools are designed to be small, with a maximum of 300 students, which enables them to foster a supportive, personalised learning environment with a strong focus on pastoral care. The schools forge close links with businesses and enterprises in their specialist industries who support the schools through activities such as mentoring, work placements, and curriculum design and delivery. To further prepare students for the world of work, employability skills are embedded throughout all school activities using the CREATE employability skills framework.
Like University Technical Colleges, Studio Schools are designed for students aged 14–19, whereas free schools and other academies can choose the age range of their pupils. Some Studio Schools which operate in areas with a three-tier school system have intakes for students aged 13.