Young Design Programme

A university student chats with a pupil

To view 2008–2009 projects click here

The Sorrell Foundation Young Design Programme developed out of joinedupdesignforschools, and shares its focus of improving the quality of life in schools through good design. The programme, run in partnership with University of the Arts London, joins up young people in primary schools, secondary schools and further education colleges with students at universities and colleges, and designers in industry. The young people act as clients commissioning a design project; they set a brief for their student design consultants, who are in turn mentored by professional designers and architects.

The development of life skills is at the heart of the programme. The creative process includes opportunities for all participants to learn and develop transferable skills such as teamworking, problem-solving and communication, which help them succeed, not just in creative thinking, but in life in general.

Since 2005, a total of 83 schools, 6 further education colleges and 13 universities or higher education colleges have taken part. A total of 1,141 client team members have worked with 478 students of design and 91 professional mentors, in 95 design projects with a further 15 film or photographic projects. The programme has featured at national and international conferences. Eight external case studies have been written to date.

Current programmes include a collaboration between the University of Greenwich, the South East London Lifelong Learning Network (SELLLN), and the University of the Arts London, where undergraduate design students are working for client teams of students studying on National Diploma courses at South London FE Colleges. This model has a particular focus on supporting progression from further education to higher education.

For further information, please contact Ian Thompson on 020 7845 5897 or email

‘Working in a team with a team was probably the most important aspect of the project. It makes you more responsible since other people rely on you.’
Student design consultant

‘I was amazed at how involved and dedicated the primary school we worked with were; they were so articulate, communicated with us very well and were incredibly creative’
Student design consultant

‘The Young Design Programme has inspired us to see the students voice as being part of the consultation process when making changes and improvements in the school’
Nick Norton, lead teacher, Hele’s School

‘My son loved coming to the University and was impressed by it’s size and the level of work here. I think it’s given him inspiration and something to aspire to.’

‘The student designers are learning from us as well as us learning from them’
Pupil client

‘In terms of skills, I feel it has been incredibly useful to design something functional and experience communicating and negotiating with a client team’
Student design consultant

‘I learnt to work with new people and that some things aren't as bad as I thought’
Pupil client