by Laura Wareing
Recently, I have had the pleasure of being invited to be on the judging panel for the RSA’s Pupil Design Awards. The competition encourages secondary school pupils to use design skills to solve social problems and broaden their understanding of how design can be used. I am proud to be part of this and represent Transformation North West because I feel passionately about encouraging young people to develop design and problem solving skills, which I believe will be invaluable to them in their education and careers. This is particularly important as research, which is discussed further in the recent Transformation North West publication, shows that people who use design skills are 47% more productive and contribute £10 extra per hour in GVA to the economy than those who do not and yet there has been a 61% fall in the number of pupils taking design and technology GCSES at school since 2000 (Design Council, 2018).
RSA stands for theRoyal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce. The RSA runs many research projects, builds networks and encourages collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Design is described as being in the RSA’s ‘lifeblood’ (RSA, 2018) and they support the role that designers can play in improving society. One of the ways they do this is through their two design competitions, one aimed at university students and the other at school pupils.
I helped to shortlist three year twelve entries (aged 16 to 17) who had addressed one of three set briefs on the themes of community cohesion, inclusive educational technology and food waste. These challenges are difficult to tackle and it was great to see young people working together through the various stages of a design processes to consider creative solutions. The finalists were selected based on the ‘magic’ of their final idea, as well as their research and process. They will be invited to be interviewed by myself and other judges at the thinktank museum in Birmingham in July, followed by an award ceremony.
Whilst I was in London, I had the opportunity to meet and speak to Atif Shafique, a Senior Researcher at the RSA working on the Cities of Learning project, which has many parallels with the ‘Yplinkedin’ project I’m involved in that aims to connect together young people and businesses as part of a collaboration with Blackbeard Design and Participation Works.
Cities of Learning is aiming to embed lifelong learning in cities, specifically Manchester, Brighton and Plymouth initially, by creating networks of stakeholders, including learners, education providers, employers and local authorities. These stakeholders are involved in the co-design of plans specific to the needs of each city, which will link together different learning resources, offering opportunities for learners, for which they will be able to earn open badges that recognise their achievements.
Design Council (2018) Designing a Future Economy: Developing design skills for productivity and innovation. Available at: https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/Designing_a_future_economy18.pdf.
RSA (2018) About Pupil Design Awards. Available at: https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/creative-learning-and-development-folder/pupil-design-awards/about.