Everybody stands to gain from initiatives in schools

It is great that the Sorrell Foundation is expanding the Young Design Programme education initiative to include design colleges in Leeds and Falmouth.

The ‘kebab stick’ approach of introducing college students into the pilot of the Young Design Programme brought huge benefits to students of London’s University of the Arts last year. Reports are that the second-years involved in the project – which makes school children the clients for multidisciplinary teams of design students, who in turn refer to a high profile design mentor – generally fared better in their course work than peers who did not take part.

Everybody involved stands to gain. Children as young as eight learn how to be a client and gain confidence through the skills they develop; college students get closer to the real world than most course work gets them; and mentors gain inspiration from the ideas of new generations. Some teachers, meanwhile, say that seeing how their peers approach teaching is instructive.

The knock-on effect is far wider though. Frances Sorrell talks of instances where local educationalists and civil servants have had their eyes opened by presentations from children about what is wrong with their schools and the solutions college students have developed.

The Sorrell Foundation hopes, ultimately, to create a model for adoption nationally, but its short-term impact is limited. One remedy might be a scheme that immerses teachers – particularly head teachers – in creative thinking through practical team projects. They can become isolated, and while design might not rank for them alongside more academic subjects, it stimulates communication.

D&AD set up its excellent annual Xchange conference for design tutors to share experiences. But who is dealing with teachers’ needs? As the political landscape shifts, perhaps this is something for the new regime to address, as the school building programme initiated by Tony Blair’s Government gains momentum.

Lynda Relph-Knight, Editor

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  • Craig November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It’s good to see such an initiative is being followed through with, but I think there’s more of a general issue here, and that’s the simple fact that most design studios just want absolutely nothing to do with education. They just have the “time” for it.

    If more design studios realised the value that they can effectively go into educational institutions and shape future designers to how they need them even before they leave education then surely that is a good thing?

    There’s nothing better than getting even just a few wise words from someone who has been in the industry for a long time, but most of the time they can’t even make time for that.

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