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For over 20 years , the Vine Trust has been a pioneer in vocational and alternative provision.

‘Second Chances’ Alternative Provision School


In the late 90's it developed a number of first rung re-enagement programmes for students who found it heard to engage with school, which then went on to become the Second Chances independent alternative provision school.

Walsall Studio School

In 2013 the Trust launched Walsall Studio School, the first of its kind in the region.


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.

The Ladder School

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‘The Ladder School’ is an alternative provision free school, providing students an effective ‘step up’ for those for whom mainstream schooling has been challenging and ineffective. Part of our new joint venture, the  Mercian Trust, the proposed school focuses primarily on meeting the needs of Walsall students with the potential to serve the wider Black Country.

This new, much needed provision derives its name from the Royal led, 'Ladder Apprenticeship campaign', overseen by Kevin Davis Vine CEO and Walsall Studio School’s Chair of Governors. The campaign's partnership consists of print media organisations, employers, public and third sectors, who have each agreed to support the creation of the Ladder school, as a fitting tribute to the campaign, that has thus far, created over 2000 apprenticeship jobs, across London, Shropshire, Staffordshire, and the Black Country.

In order to positively and effectively promote the school to a wide variety of individuals and organisations, there are a number of inter-related key messages that will need to be communicated to stakeholders and a number of consultation/communications processes to be delivered.

Mercian Trust

The Mercian Trust is our largest education venture.

In partnership with the Queen Mary's Foundation, we have formed the Mercian Trust, a new Multi-Academy Trust,  encompassing a group of schools working together under a common banner and an over-arching structure of governance.


Each founding school  retain its autonomy and its unique brand. Each school will be the custodian of its heritage, distinct identity and successful operation. The new Trust takes on some of the roles that might have been played in the past by a Local Authority. A new company with a new and distinct purpose, for this reason, we chose a name that is both rooted in history expressesing a geographical identity and ambition: The Mercian Trust. Mercia was an ancient kingdom comprising Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and, crucially for us, what we now call the Black Country. It was in Mercia that St Chad established an association of small monasteries which fostered unity through bonds of kinship.

We are pleased to announce that following the Regional Schools Commissioner's (RSC) November approval, the merger between the Q3 Academies Trust and its 3 schools with the Mercian Trust, was completed on the 1st May 2022.

Mercian and Q3 schools have worked more closely together in 2021 to provide quality assurance and school to school support, and we are already seeing the positive impact of this.

We truly believe that students and staff will benefit from being part of a larger family of schools, and we are committed to working together to increase opportunities and improve outcomes for students in our area

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