Reaching out to Schools

Many schools travel great distances to attend the schools programme at the V&A. However, staff noticed that despite the popularity of the workshops, participation amongst schools based in some local London boroughs was poor. In 2011 John Lyon’s Charity generously awarded the V&A a grant to help increase schools within its beneficary areas to engage with the programme. My role is to work with those schools to develop strategies to encourage and assist them to take part in the programme. I have been working for just over a year on this three year project.

Schools can face many barriers to attending workshops. My role centres around building relationships with teachers and helping them overcome these barriers in order to engage with what we have to offer here at the V&A. I organize a variety of events as incentives for teachers, such as a programme of free and exclusive CPD events which give taster sessions of the workshops and ideas for how to use the collections within classroom lessons.

Graphic Design Masterclass

Above is a Graphics workshop led by designer Matthew Raw. Participants looked at examples of typography and then created their own 3D ceramic outcomes in response to a given brief.

We also offer outreach workshops where a practicing designer will visit schools to deliver a session.

Outreach session at St James School

This session was led by designer-maker Jasleen Kaur, a recent RCA graduate. Students were given a hands–on design challenge: to invent and make the tools necessary to build a food factory. Students identified the processes and stages required to make a recipe for their food factory and then invented tools using everyday materials. Students used images from the collections at the V&A to help inspire them in creating their outcomes.

Please take a look at the blog I keep on the pages of the John Lyon’s Charity website which describes every step of the project so far – including the difficulties and challenges that have been met. The blog is also an interactive platform acting as a learning forum for teachers and other professionals to share ideas and examples of best practice – so any comments are welcome!

Am I eligible to take part in the John Lyon’s Charity project?

You could be eligible for half price workshops, free outreach and free CPD events at the V&A if you are a Secondary Art & Design or Design & Technology teacher (from a state-maintained school) in the following 8 boroughs:

Ealing, Brent, Barnet, RBKC, Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster Harrow &


Want to find out more?

You can talk to me on 0207 942 2481 or by emailing me at