DesignLab Nation

DesignLab Nation is a programme of in-depth projects that explore new ways of engaging secondary school students with design.

The V&A's national secondary schools programme, DesignLab Nation, aims to:

  • Inspire the next generation of professional designers, makers and innovators
  • Equip young people with 21st century skills necessary for workplaces of the future
  • Develop partnerships with regional museums, designers and schools to expand the reach of the V&A's collection and expertise outside of London
  • Focus on local making, design heritage and industry, highlighting both historical and contemporary design and its importance to regional collections, place-making and learning
  • Support in-depth student projects through the delivery of design challenges which mirror the design journey
  • Support teachers and build regional and national design networks

Our current regional partners are Blackpool (Grundy Art Gallery and Showtown, Blackpool), Bradford (Cartwright Hall & Bradford Industrial Museum), Ipswich (Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion) and Plymouth (The Box).

Previous partners:

  • Blackburn Museum
  • Culture Coventry
  • Museums Sheffield
  • The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent
  • The National Glass Centre, Sunderland

Having access to the arts in school is good for attainment, good for job prospects, and good for the creative talent pipeline.

Tristram Hunt, V&A Director

In each participating region, we partner with a museum and professional designers. Together, we deliver in-depth design projects to local secondary school groups (aged 11 – 16, approx. 25 students in each) and continuing professional development (CPD) sessions for regional networks of teachers. All participating students will visit both their local museum and the V&A during their project, as well as additional engagement with other local design industries, colleges and universities. This programme supports the teaching of the Design and Technology (D&T) GCSE, which launched in September 2017.

It has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in my decade or so of teaching.

Participating Teacher

In each year of the programme, partner museums are asked to recruit three local schools that they have not recently engaged with, that are based in areas with above average levels of income deprivation and/or have low levels of cultural engagement. This programme is fully funded for all schools who take part, including travel to London and workshop materials.

The best part of DesignLab Nation was learning new things and seeing things from a different perspective

Participating Student

Find out more about the programme on the V&A Learning Blog or contact:

Read our recent years' report here:

DesignLab Nation decorative logo

DesignLab Nation is generously supported by Sarah Nichols and The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust.

DesignLab Nation Bradford is part of the V&A's Jameel Programme.

Art Jameel logo

Our previous partners include:

Logos for Blackpool Museum and Art Gallery, Coventry Transport Museum, Sheffield Museums, City of Stoke on Trent, National Glass Centre, and Grundy

Our current partners for academic year 2022/3 are:

Logos for Show Town the museum of fun and entertainment, Colchester and Ipswich Museums, Braddord Museums and Galleries, and The Box