Launch of Schools Design Challenge exhibition

14 March 2016

An exhibition of school pupils’ creativity was launched today (Monday 14 March) by V&A Museum of Design Dundee, following a four-month project which worked with over 1,000 young people.

The Schools Design Challenge asked S1 pupils from Angus and Dundee to creatively respond to the question, ‘How could you improve your school or school life?’

Pupils were asked to engage with how they can change their everyday environments supported by learning resources provided by V&A Dundee and the expertise of their teachers.

Over 250 teams submitted creative responses to the challenge, which included designing a friendship club, an outdoor bird-watching shelter, an anti-bullying robot that listens to pupils’ concerns, and a 'worry app' to let pupils share their anxieties and seek support.

Ten teams were picked by an expert panel to develop their ideas with the support of professional designers. These ten teams will now have their ideas – and films documenting their inspiring progress – shown in Dundee’s Overgate Shopping Centre from Monday 14 to Sunday 27 March.

Schools Design Challenge is part of V&A Dundee’s pre-opening programme, which has been running since 2014. This project was supported by funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery along with generous support from the William Grant Foundation.

Joanna Mawdsley, V&A Dundee Learning Manager for Schools, Young People and Families, said: “Learning and community engagement are absolutely central to the work of V&A Dundee, and the Schools Design Challenge is the latest project where we’re using designers and design approaches to inspire people.

“Working with these creative, inspired, intelligent young learners and seeing the challenges they’re facing as they move into secondary school has been very moving. It’s become very clear through this project that our young people greatly value the opportunity to be involved in shaping their schools, their education and the world around them.”

Working with Dundee City Council, the museum is jointly developing its learning programme with teaching professionals seconded over a ten-year period.

Schools Design Challenge benefited from the experience of Sandy Hope, a secondary school teacher from Dundee who has been seconded to V&A Dundee under this agreement.

Sandy Hope, V&A Dundee Schools Development Officer, said: “The Schools Design Challenge has introduced over 1,000 pupils and many teachers to the power of design to instill creative confidence, and to show young people how they can learn a set of skills that can be applied to solving problems in any of their school subjects.

“We wanted to open these pupils’ eyes to their own potential, and to show them that the world is full of interesting problems that they can solve. The ideas, the videos and the exhibition are really just the start of what they can achieve.”

The schools featured in the exhibition are Arbroath Academy, Baldragon Academy, Braeview Academy, Brechin High School, Castlepark Education Centre, Craigie High School, Grove Academy, Morgan Academy, St Paul’s RC Academy and Webster’s High School.

Judith Steele, teacher at Morgan Academy, said: “From the outset, the pupils seemed to really engage with the Schools Design Challenge. They worked so well as a team, and had a fantastic opportunity to work alongside a talented designer who brought out the very best in each of them.

“They had to generate and communicate their ideas quickly and clearly not only to each other, but to the other schools involved. I was so impressed with their willingness to 'jump in the deep end', and completely immerse themselves in a new way of thinking and problem-solving.

“It allowed them the chance to consider how design is relevant to their everyday lives, and that they have the tools to make a difference.

“Our young people in Dundee are so lucky to belong to a community on the brink of such exciting change. V&A Dundee has captured imaginations in a real and tangible way and this is our chance to inspire a lifetime of creativity.”

The exhibition is free and open to the public on the first floor of Dundee’s Overgate Shopping Centre, outside Debenhams, from Monday 14 to Sunday 27 March.

Resources created for the challenge are available to schools across Scotland via Glow, Education Scotland's digital environment for learning.

Image Credit: V&A Dundee / Alan Richardson

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