Joinedupdesign for Building Schools for the Future

2007 – 2010

Joinedupdesign for BSF asks pupils how they would like to improve the design of their schools.

It was developed as part of Building Schools for the Future, a government investment programme designed to rebuild or refurbish all state secondary schools in England. This investment aimed to transform pupils’ educational experiences by ensuring that each school’s physical spaces effectively supported teaching and learning.

A national touring exhibition disseminated the findings of joinedupdesignforschools, with further stakeholder workshops paving the way for joinedupdesign for BSF


The Challenge: Client teams identify ‘how it is now?’ and ‘how it could be?’ in relation to their school’s design


The Visit: Pupils visit the ‘What’s Next for Schools?’ interactive exhibition at the Young Design Centre, Somerset House, to learn about the future of school design


The Conversation: Client teams discuss what they want for their new schools under the 15 ‘common issues’ identified in the Pupils’ Brief publication


The Brief: Clients compile their Pupils’ Brief, a publication informing architects, headteachers and local authorities what young people want for their new school


The Presentation: Clients from Bradford present design concepts to fellow pupils, local authority stakeholders and school governors


The Presentation: Pupil clients talk to Jim Knight, former Minister of State for Schools, about their Pupils’ Brief


The Celebration: Clients celebrate after presenting their ideas at the Department for Children, Schools and Families (now the Department for Education)


Joinedupdesign for BSF adapts the Foundation’s joinedupdesignforschools model, which gives schoolchildren the role of clients. Pupils form a client team and professional designers and architects are appointed to work for them. Together they engage in a client/consultant relationship. Over a series of workshops, inspirational visits and meetings, the pupil clients identify what they want for their new schools and the consultants help them to articulate this.

The young clients create a Pupils’ Brief, which sets out the issues they feel most important to the successful design and future sustainability of their school. In response, the consultants generate design concepts that the client teams present to local authority stakeholders and school governors at a special celebration event.

“I’ll be feeling very proud of my involvement. Look what I’ve helped with, look what I’ve done! It’s raised my morale and it’s raised the morale of the rest of the team”.

– Pupil client

 “I have heard a lot of wisdom from these young people. Very thoughtful, articulate views and ideas”.

– Strategic Director, Bradford District Metropolitan Council

“The [pupils’] brief had such vigour, life and enthusiasm. It was really stimulating. It was the key that unlocked the whole process. It was highly intelligent – all about light, space, environment, even acoustic separation. Very profound”.

– Keith Priest, Fletcher Priest Architects

“The pupils have been acting as the client to professionals, engaging in all sorts of dialogues and processes, consulting with our staff, governors, students. The skills that they’ve used in this are phenomenal”.

– Headteacher


Client teams continue their engagement, contributing to decision-making, and collaborating with architects and planners. The young people’s work directly informs the project’s design and build, providing valuable insights from the school’s future users. Clients learn important life skills, they develop in confidence, and they become more engaged in school life.

The Sorrell Foundation developed a similar model, joinedupdesign for Primary Capital Programme (PCP), in response to secondary government investment for the rebuilding or refurbishment of primary schools in England.


The Pupils’ Brief

Working with 38 local authorities and 279 schools and colleges across the UK, joinedupdesign for BSF helped give thousands of pupils a voice. The joinedupdesign model uncovered ‘common issues’ in school design, showing what pupils really want in their schools, documented here.

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