Joinedupdesignforschools gives schoolchildren aged 4 to 16 the role of clients.
They form a client team to create a brief for a design project that will improve quality of life in their school. A designer or architect is appointed to work for them, and together they engage in a client/consultant relationship.
Schoolchildren are listened to and given a voice as creative equals, interacting with these professionals as partners. The unusual combination of young minds and professional design expertise leads to innovative and relevant design concepts for schools.
By giving them the responsibility of being the clients, of being their school’s representatives and decision‑makers, the schoolchildren learn life skills such as communication, teamwork, negotiation and problem‑solving, as well as developing a real sense of ownership for their school. The process has generated a list of common issues that schoolchildren want to address, from redesigning school uniforms to creating inspiring learning spaces.
“I’m convinced that the fact that I was able to refer to and discuss my part in the project, and particularly its presentation at the Victoria & Albert Museum, had a major influence on me getting offered a place at Cambridge [University]”.
“I think this is probably the richest curriculum opportunity you can offer these children, because every area of the curriculum has been covered by just setting a problem”.
“I think there’s an enormous value for a designer to work with children as clients, because it shows you how it ought to be with adults”.
Many of the UK’s leading names in design, some of the world’s best designers, have worked on these projects, including: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Paul Smith, Thomas Heatherwick, Alsop Architects, PriestmanGoode, Wolff Olins and Conran & Partners. The programme demonstrates how the design industry can be joined up with the education sector, so that schools can benefit from its experience and skills. These partnerships also encourage reciprocal learning, where professionals can learn as much from young people, as young people can from professionals.
After development with over 100,000 schoolchildren, the programme has become a model showing how to give young people a say in the way their schools are designed, whilst inspiring their creativity and confidence.