The Transforming Croydon Schools Team would like to
thank all the authors who contributed to this collection of
provocation papers for their time, thoughts and energy.
Your collective insights will contribute to the lives of all
children and young people for whom we are striving to
Our thanks go to the British Council for School
Environments and Ty Goddard for their continual support.
This publications would not have been possible without
the attentive eye of Frances Roberson and the design flair
of Ella Britton; our thanks to you both.
Finally, we would like to thank all of you who read this
publication for taking time out of your busy work lives
to engage with the Broadening Horizons Programme and
stretch your thinking about what is possible.
TCS Service Transformation Coordinator Themes Explained
‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) is an ambitious This programme will offer participants a significant What makes a good school?
programme which aims to produce far reaching chance to develop their thinking about the future of ? This is our overarching question with all stakeholders. In our exploration with many
change. It offers local authorities and schools in schools and learning. The programme will enable people we expect to profile the characteristics of what learners, parents teachers and
England a once-in-a-generation opportunity to participants to widen their networks, drawing on others all think makes a good school. Each of the themes below is an area of research
transform educational provision and to significantly the leading thinkers from the sectors of education, and potential profiling and represents considerations to people and process change.
improve educational outcomes and life chances of design, leadership, business and technology. The
children, young people and families. programme has been designed to stimulate thinking; Learning Experience
challenge expectations; offer practical examples The TCS team has been considering how the learning experience might change to
The capital investment is intended to act as a catalyst of implementation and generate shared points of best meet the needs of children and young people in the 21st Century. This includes
for change, but is not itself the change. Through reference for leading a journey of transformation. reflections on personalised, collaborative, project based, enquiry based and skills based
the investment, schools will be able to make the learning to name but a few.
organisational and cultural changes needed and What follows is a collection of papers written to
provide 21st century facilities for new, and tried stimulate thinking and provoke the reader as part of Teaching Experience
and tested methods of learning and teaching. This this developmental programme. The TCS team has been examining how pedagogy and the teaching profession has
will enable every young person to unlock their skills changed in recent years. This has involved looking at new models of leadership; new
and talents, giving them the opportunity to be fully The views contained in this publication are those of roles for teachers in the classroom, as well as across the school; and collaborative
engaged in meaningful learning and to achieve their the authors and do not represent the views of either practice.
best, regardless of background. Young people will London Borough. They are provided as part of a
have the knowledge, capability and values required to transformation journey to encourage deep thinking Social Experience
become successful participants in, and contributors about education and learning ahead of design We have asked young people in particular about their social experience in school.
to, 21st century society and the global economy. considerations. Consider your horizons broadened. We have questioned the role of informal learning and the power of developing social,
emotional aspects of learning.
The Transforming Croydon Schools team is dedicated
to delivering a step change in service provision Dining Experience
through capital investment programmes such as Schools have number of conventions that have continued pervasively into the 21st
BSF. Each school has established their own School Century, one of these is the dining experience young people have. We are questioning
Transformation Team, representing the views of a wide the validity, particularly in the context of Every Child Matter, of regimented, whole school
range of stakeholders and providing a communication lunchtimes.
route to each member’s respective stakeholder group.
It is essential that this group is given opportunity to Professional Working
challenge and debate current and future thinking about As a team we recognise that on other large scale capital programmes the spaces that
schools and learning, as well as looking beyond the adults often use (staff room, offices, meeting spaces) are poorly considered. We have
school for inspiration. begun to explore the nature of working spaces for adults in schools and in particular how
space might support new ways of working, especially collaborative work.
To this end we are committed to creating a programme
of activity that will provide participants with the Extended Learning
opportunity to expand their experience of: we have give considerable thought to how a school might offer a wider range of learning
services, both during school hours and also beyond the school day. As a resource, a
• Inspirational People and Inspirational Places school as immense potential for acting as a hub for both community learning and for
• New ways of working engaging local young people.
• Alternatives approaches to school organisation
• New models of leadership Accelerating Progress
• Innovative use of ICT Our schools talk extensively about the challenges associated with assessment, both
• Global challenges facing educationalists formatively in respect to the changing frequency and scale of examinations and also
• 21st Century Learning Strategies formatively with regards to assessment for learning. We have already begun to test ideas
• Best practice examples from BSF projects associated with peer mentoring and coaching.
• Next generation learning spaces
• Lateral thinking Relationships and Partnerships
• Creative problem solving we are working more cooperatively as a result of the multi-disciplinary teams we
• Large scale capital investment programmes e.g. BSF have formed to transform our schools. Some of these relationships are formal and
have governance changes connected to them. Others capitalise on common areas of
development and relative strengths of schools.
Paper 1: Tim Rudd
Paper 2: Sean McDougall
Paper 3: Prakash Nair
Paper 4: jellyellie
Paper 5: Neil Hutchinson
Paper 6: Tom Weaver
Paper 7: Moray Watson
appendix and bibliography pp xxx Paper 8: Darren Atkinson
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
Co-design as Pedagogy,
Embedding Learner Voice
through BSF ?
Tim Rudd, Futurelab
“Creativity involves breaking out expectations and practices are often discounted or
disregarded as they challenge the existing social
of established patterns in order to dynamics and practice existing within the field of
look at things in a different way.” education (Bourdieu 1991;1992;1998). The majority
Edward De Bono. of stakeholders involved in BSF are touched by
this history and practice and there is a reticence
There is much talk of transformation within the context to debating the very nature and purpose of such a
of BSF. But what exactly is meant by transformation? politicised and entrenched system, without viable
We hear the word transformation bandied around in evidence underpinning any such change. This is why
education, with little debate as to what it means and currently, the term transformation is conflated with
how it might be applied in order to change the form, change and most emphasis is placed on the aesthetics
function and practice of education in the 21st century. of buildings, the incorporation of new technologies and
In the context of BSF, surely we must be clear what it relatively minor differences such new spaces might
means and what the implications are in order to design have over their predecessors.
and create learning spaces capable of supporting the
delivery of any such vision of a transformed future. Unfortunately, such surface changes do little to
Without this, there will remain a big question mark support fundamental changes in practice and are
as to whether the BSF programme will be harnessed certainly not transformational. In order to move toward
as a vehicle to deliver transformation, as the rhetoric transformation, we must therefore look to mobilising
suggests. the existing evidence, policies and initiatives that
exist within the current system, which are more
One of the biggest challenges faced by schools and transformative in nature and will enable us to bring
authorities is the seemingly simultaneous need to about more radical change.
design and deliver learning spaces for a transformed
future whilst also delivering for existing system “We can’t solve problems by using
requirements. Current standards and metrics for
assessing how well schools, pupils and teachers the same kind of thinking we used
have performed are open and public, and defined when we created them.”
by set criteria, subjects, approaches and methods Albert Einstein
of assessment, which can and do restrict teaching
practice to ‘broadcast’ or ‘transmission’ models. This
presents real and objective (as well as subjective and So what is transformation and what
perceived) barriers to transformative thinking and
practice in the context of BSF.
is the need to transform?
Does the predominant transmission mode of education
This leaves us with some challenging questions.
really offer the most memorable, challenging and
Firstly, how can we deliver transformational learning
ultimately the most valid and appropriate set of
spaces and related practices when the formal and
learning experiences to prepare learners for life in the
official requirements demand to a large degree that
21st century? Laurillard (2008), in her inaugural lecture
we perpetuate the status quo? Secondly, how can
at the London Knowledge Lab, helpfully mapped
we offer a vision of transformative future when there
out some, although far from all, of the key learning
is little clarity or agreement over what it means?
theories and practice to emerge over the last 120
Thirdly, how can we even begin to perceive a radically
years (including the work of; Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky,
transformed future when there is so much history and
Bruner, Freire, Pask, Winograd, Papert, Resnick, Seely
related institutionalised notions about what schools are
Brown, Marton, Säljö, Biggs, Lave). As Laurillard points
and do? In some respect, it may be this third question
out, whilst these vary considerably in approach and
that provides the biggest barrier.
specific aims, they all share one core and common
theme, which is that the learner is seen as an active
It is argued, especially when considering such an
agent in the learning process.
established system such as state education, that
every thought and word is dialogic (Bhaktin, [pub].
Whether the conception of learning promotes inquiry-
1981). That is ideas that significantly challenge existing
based learning, constructivism, social constructivism,
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
How often are we This, it was argued would people to exploit new digital technologies to create,
lead to broader and more edit, share and store information - to collaborate with
faced with the differentiated provision others, to communicate through various media with
offering greater choices geographically dispersed others, to create our own
paradoxical claims around what to learn, how networks, interest groups, friendships and affiliations
that on the one hand to learn, when to learn and for learning in ways most of us could previously not
so forth. The other central imagine. Yet the way people learn inside schools is
educational standards aspect of personalisation, vastly different, rigid, and some would argue the
are improving as was to increase the pre-dominant one way broadcast model is outdated
consumers, or pupils, voice and outmoded, echoing some of the earlier claims that
measured by existing in education, providing education has to transform in order to have relevance
standards... whilst them with appropriate in today’s society.
mechanisms to negotiate
simultaneously personalised learning How often are we faced with the paradoxical claims
hearing of disaffection, pathways and to have a that on the one hand educational standards are
greater say over the form improving as measured by existing standards and
alienation, poor literacy and function of their school measures situation, whilst simultaneously hearing of
levels and the claims experience. disaffection, alienation, poor literacy levels and the
claims that graduates often do not have the skills
that graduates often While there are examples of needed in business, entrepreneurship, or in life more
good practice, we have not generally? While these headlines all have to be treated
do not have the skills witnessed the overhaul and with some caution, we also need to consider whether
needed in business, transformation intended we are measuring the right skills and competencies
and heralded initially. and moreover, whether we are teaching the right
entrepreneurship, or in This is partly because skills and processes, in a manner that empowers and
life more generally? there were few significant support learners to develop responsibility and a sense
changes in policy to enable of ownership over what they do and hence develop
mediated learning, discovery learning, problem- through the lens of the predominant orthodoxy and considerable shifts in broader learning skills in the process.
based learning, reflective practice, meta-cognition, thus being diluted and mediated by existing practice, practice and the related inability to significantly change
experiential learning, learner-oriented approaches or processes and thinking as ‘bolt on’ concepts and ‘tick the participatory mechanisms and engagement “The illiterate of the 21st century
practices to enable pupils to have a real voice. The
situated learning, it appears that our education system box’ exercises rather than as transformational levers,
overarching institutional logic provided a significant
will not be those who cannot read
does not systematically strive to create the ideal there is still much we can learn and operationalise to
conditions for these sorts of learning experiences. bring about significant changes within the system. real and perceptual barrier resulting in calls for greater and write, but those who cannot
Leading thinkers and researchers offer theories and choice and voice being limited to little more than learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
evidence to support a different model of education, yet Let us consider both personalisation and Every Child enhanced options and preferences within the existing Alvin Toffler
the deeply politicised nature of the education system Matters as supposedly core initiatives that, when systems framework.
means much of this is ignored in favour of a technicist conceived, were claimed to be concepts to help Drawing from the field of community participation,
approach to content delivery and measurement that transform the learning landscape. However, BSF can and does provide a vehicle to lever there is a long and established set of guidance that
acts as a proxy for assessing educational quality. more significant changes in personalised practice suggests that if a community is to be involved and
Personalisation, despite its subsequent patchy but only if pupils are involved, or rather meaningfully active, people need to feel they can make a difference.
We must take time to challenge our established and translation and ongoing re-interpretation, was engaged in the decision making and design processes. They need to have ownership over the agendas and
institutionalised perceptions of school and learning heralded as a concept to transform education. The prevailing logic is of top down initiative setting issues and have the mechanisms available to them
experiences in order to consider what a transformed Initial Government papers introducing the concept, with several layers of hierarchy mediating and shaping that allow them to get their ideas, opinions and
learning space might look like, how it might be especially those by David Miliband (1984), drew on practice before it impacts on the pupils. Yet, we are thoughts across with a plausible expectation that it will
resourced, what the relationships and approaches to previous theses (Piore and Sabel 1984 & 1985) around seeing the notion of such top-down, hierarchical and have an impact and help inform decisions made. In the
learning and teaching would be like if we designed changing patterns of consumption and production set approaches being challenged elsewhere in society context of BSF we are not seeing much beyond pupil
spaces around these broader theories of learning and related wider changes in society. Drawing on and in business, and increasingly the need to engage community rubber stamping decisions already made
with the learner as active and central in the learning this analogy, the claim was made that education the communities in the decision making processes by others, or choosing from pre-determined options.
process. It is worth taking the time to think through had to adapt to be relevant to changes in modern is seen as an essential aspect of those communities
the varied or preferred educational theories and society, allowing for greater diversity and choice for taking ownership and responsibility for ensuring fruitful To realise the enormity and the expectations of
philosophies, identify the key processes involved in the the consumer, in this case, the pupil. The argument outcomes. Yet seldom are we seeing the same logic education deeply rooted in our culture, we have only to
learning experience and consider how such functions went that we had gone beyond a Fordist model of applied meaningfully to the pupil communities within think of the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda, which
might require different forms in terms of spatial design. production with Taylorist principles of standardisation schools. again publicly seeks to join up and radically reform
and breaking production processes down into clearly children’s services. Whilst few could argue with the
The above theories of course, represent just a few of defined, time bound tasks, and had moved into a As well as the various educational theories, the overall intentions of such an agenda, and the great
the major theoretical and practical approaches that post modern era where products were diversified, calls to transform education through personalising work and positive steps that has been undertaken
put the learner as central to the learning experience. customised and tailored to the demands and needs of learners’ experiences by giving them greater choice to ensure young people’s lives are safer and more
However, there are clear aspects of recent policy the consumer. and voice, and the wider theories that highlight the rewarding, there must remain doubts as to the extent
that can also be mobilised in order to establish a changing nature of society (all highlighted above) we to which it will transform pupils’ experiences in
transformed educational vision. Whilst somewhere in The Government took this analogy and applied it to also have to consider the role and impact new and schools.
the process of interpretation from concept to delivery, education, suggesting that greater diversity should be emerging technologies will have on society and the
these concepts and initiatives are being translated achieved through ‘producers’ listening to ‘consumers’. ways in which we learn. There are now more ways for
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
To all intents and purposes, Every Child Matters and convinced by the need to change and transform agendas into which they have had little or no input, about what they feel the key issues around education
remains a top down policy initiative, interpreted learning experiences and practices. By placing and indeed, may have little or no interest, renders such are. Unfortunately, pupils are seldom involved in any
through the existing structures, systems and learners at the heart of a co-design process, it would activities relatively meaningless. If a project is to be aspect of the redesign process, and where they are,
institutions that will no doubt continue to mediate offer place them as central in a learning process truly empowering, and pupils are to gain ownership it tends to be little more than a ‘tick box’ exercise.
its transformational potential. Every Child Matters that engages them in real, active and participatory and take responsibility, then they have to be involved Ultimately, the hierarchies, processes and structures
states that every child, regardless of background or activities that can lead to tangible changes. It offers in every step of the process, from initial agenda currently in place will continue to remain unchallenged,
circumstance, should have the support they need the opportunity for them to be exposed to and develop setting, developing initial conceptual ideas, problem mediating any opportunities for transformation,
to: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a a whole range of new skills, competencies and abilities solving and creative thinking and planning, all the way and resulting in new old schools, with such a great
positive contribution, achieve economic wellbeing, process. through to design and delivery. opportunity being missed.
and that these should be at the heart of everything a
school does. However, unless greater control is given The programme also offers the potential for pupils to It is of course, not an easy task and will require
to pupils to engage in truly participatory processes, work alongside and learn with and from their peers, rethinking approaches and established ways of doing
they will be subject to policies and practices put in staff, other stakeholders and a whole range of other things. It will require new ways of decision making
place by others rather than become active agents in professionals involved in such programmes. Perhaps and ensuring varied participation processes using a
the development, and through related engagement, as importantly, it offers the opportunity and context range of media, tools and processes. However, the
gain a better understanding the underlying issues for schools to embark on whole scale and real CPD overall outcomes are worth the effort, if there is the
embedded within the initiative. programmes to model and trial new pedagogies, conviction to place the pupil as active agent in the
develop new working relationships and practices learning process, as the research and theory suggests;
There is no doubt that the BSF programme will help with pupils for a transformed, more participatory to offer them greater choice, as initiatives such as
realise some of the intentions of ECM agenda. It will and engaging educational future. It will also enable personalisation promote; to enable them to make a
allow schools and local authorities to provide a more better planning of space based on these emerging positive contribution and enjoy and achieve, which
coherent and joined up vision with various services practices alongside the spaces that are suited to are aims stated in the Every Child Matters agenda;
accessible from a single site and services being current demands. Such approaches are also more and to transform and modernise learning experiences
better linked and networked through virtual learning likely to utilise new technologies in meaningful ways and offer opportunities to develop broader skills and
environments and infrastructure, and will make and harness their transformative potential. It must competencies that commentators recognise many
pupils environments safer and healthier. Clearly, any be stated clearly, that new technologies, whilst often pupils do not acquire sufficiently.
such achievements under the programme should be thought as synonymous to transformation, can, in
celebrated. fact, reinforce and entrench existing practice, albeit in This is even before we consider how such approaches
more modern ways. It is only when such technologies could ensure children’s rights, such as those outlined
However, what if we were to go one stage further? can be used meaningfully to enhance and change the in articles 12 & 13 of the United Nations Convention on
It is worth taking the time to consider what a underlying mode of learning that we can claim to see the Rights of the Child:
learning space of the future would be like if it were their transformative potential.
designed first and foremost to ensure pupils have Article 12 states: Parties shall assure to the child who
the support they need to: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy “The public is more familiar with is capable of forming his or her own views the right to
and achieve, make a positive contribution, achieve express those views freely in all matters affecting the
economic wellbeing. Moreover, what would the
bad design than good design. It child, the views of the child being given due weight in
process look like if we were to actively encourage is, in effect, conditioned to prefer accordance with the age and maturity of the child
pupils to be co-designers of such spaces? If nothing bad design, because that is what
else, such an exercise would help us step outside it lives with. The new becomes Article 13 states: The child shall have the right to
our institutionalised modes of thinking to envisage freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom
a different type of space. What services would be threatening, the old reassuring.” to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all
on the site? What resources might be indoors and Paul Rand kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or
outdoors, even on routes to the building, in order to in print, in the form of art, or through any other media
promote better health and well being? What learning of the child’s choice.
resources and materials might enhance this? How Co-design as pedagogy
could we assure pupils safety, and might the presence There is also another issue with BSF and pupil
of others actually increase the likelihood of this, rather BSF offers all of the above, if schools are willing to see engagement that should not be overlooked; that is that
than diminish it? How can we ensure our pupils will the programme as a co-design opportunity with pupils. pupils are also institutionalised. Again, we hear of co-
enjoy the learning experience? Do we know what Co-design projects potentially offer diverse, rich, and design projects with pupils which do not take the time
they’d find enjoyable and help them to achieve their empowering learning experiences for pupils that can to take pupils away from their internalised perceptions
broader aims? How can we design spaces that enable develop a range of skills and competencies and can of what a school is, looks like and does, and more
pupils to make a positive contribution, especially if involve them as active agents in meaningful ways importantly, what others think it should be, and this is
we don’t know if or how they want to contribute? And alongside a range and collaborating with a range of why we see worthy project but with outcomes whereby
how might we guarantee they achieve economic well other people. However, we need to make it very clear pupils have focussed largely on the aesthetics and
being? Might this require a whole new emphasis on indeed what co-design really means. comfort issues, rather than being involved in wider
the role of the school and the services provided on- discussions about changes in practices, learning and
site? We often hear of projects that claim to promote learner teaching approaches, relationships and so forth, which
participation, which in reality are little more than are fundamentally more important in informing design
Despite the dual challenge outlined earlier of delivering consultation exercises, often based on limited options. decisions and creating appropriate spaces for learning
new learning spaces to support current system This form of consultation is a largely passive exercise, in the future. It is also a means through which (with
requirements, yet support future transformation, BSF around pre-defined areas into which pupils have the right mechanisms and processes to overcome
offers a huge opportunity for those brave enough had little input. Moreover, consulting pupils around any fear or hierarchies) staff can learn with pupils
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
A whole school do-design project which utilises in which they learn. BSF is a massive opportunity to
BSF as a vehicle for modelling and trialling new and transform learning if schools and authorities can only
transformed practices, offers the potential to support encapsulate these broader visions into their vision and
systemic transformation; an opportunity to model new designs alongside pupils in a learning process to really
practices through the co-design process; gives pupils create schools for the future.
exposure to a whole range of skills, competencies,
access to expertise and mechanisms. It could create We need to move away from viewing BSF as a building
opportunities for real, active and meaningful learning programme and to consider what transformation is
with tangible outputs; provide opportunities to and should be with regard to the skills, competencies
develop mentoring, moderation and mediation skills, and experiences for our pupils. We need to re-
reflection, and a vehicle through which to celebrate perceive BSF as a once in a lifetime opportunity to
achievements. build a better, more relevant, engaging and modern
educational future. We need to move away from the
There is a wealth of research evidence that points legally bounded perspective of ‘if we build it they
out both the relative paucity of co-design projects (pupils) will come’, to one that invites them to build it
with pupils, and also the huge and broad learning themselves, learn from the experience, and to own the
benefits that can arise (see for example: Humphries space and the learning processes that occur within it.
2009; Woodcock 2009; Den Besten et al. 2008;
Hart 1992). Trawling the wealth of evidence from “He that will not apply new
a range of fields, it is clear that co-design can
improve self esteem, sense of belonging, community
remedies must expect new evils;
connectedness, increase aspirations, and experience for time is the greatest innovator.”
of ‘lived citizenship’, in addition to benefits emanating Francis Bacon
from the new spaces or artefacts themselves. The
various processes and interactions involved offer
the possibility for pupils to improve team working,
project management, communication, collaboration,
design, creativity, discussion, debating, negotiation,
research, analysis, presenting arguments, decision
making, thinking and listening skills, as well as giving
them knowledge of various tools, mechanisms
and resources. This is in addition to the insights
they could gain of other fields, such as design,
landscaping, planning, graphic design, sustainability,
ecology, environmental issues, resourcing, financing,
educational approaches and so forth.
The evidence showing the learning benefits of
engaging pupils in meaningful, active and tangible
co-design projects in truly participatory ways is
compelling. The broader calls
We need to move for the need to transform
education in order to ensure
away from the we place learners at the heart
legally bounded of the learning process and
thereby develop more engaging
perspective of ‘if we learning experiences informed
build it they (pupils) by theory is evident.
will come’, to one The need to modernise
education to bring it in line
that invites them to with wider societal changes
build it themselves, and practices and create an
educational offering more
learn from the suited to the 21st century is
experience, and embedded within the political
literature, as is the need to
to own the space ensure we have a system in
and the learning which every child really does
matter and makes a positive
processes that contribution to the learning
occur within it. process and the institutions
Paper two / Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational Service
Polishing the Diamond:
Adding Value to Croydon’s ?
Three words that will shape this publication; Provoke, Here is my answer:
Sean McDougall, Stakeholder Design Design, Transformation
Provoke: (verb) to incite into action; also to raise
This is the first in a series of publications
commissioned by Croydon Local Authority as
the borough embarks on the biggest educational
investment programme in its history. It has been
specifically commissioned as a provocation paper –
but what exactly does that mean? Design:
(the design - noun), a solution, usually replicable, to a
At street level, provocation is associated with violence problem having sensual or systemic form.
and disorder. In my view, a good provocation paper (to design - verb), deliberate action towards resolution
will certainly lead readers to question much that they of a problem with sensual or systemic form.
thought to be unchallengeable. The best – the US
Declaration of Independence, for instance, or the Asked “Who was the first designer?” I like to say that it
Communist Manifesto, have the power to overthrow was the caveman who discovered how to make a fire
governments. But this paper isn’t that good. by banging flints together over kindling. Perhaps he
was absentmindedly banging some rocks together to
In schools, the word “provoking” often appears in make a noise when he noticed some sparks flying. The
conjunction with another word – we say “that was a thought process that he followed (“I wonder if I can do
very thought-provoking discussion”, or compliment that again?”; “What happens if I try this?” and “If I do
people on their ability to provoke laughter as part of that again over some dry sticks I might be able to start
their learning strategy. Designers like laughter – it is a fire”) reflect the design process as it has existed
a sign that two dissonant and apparently contrasting ever since.
thoughts have been reconciled. Where there is no
dissent there is no hope of change. In his head he had a sense of how he did it – a
memory of trying something out, seeing what worked
Dissenters make change possible by questioning the and what didn’t, making adjustments and perfecting
things that we now take for granted. With that in mind, the solution. But where was the design? In his
let us close this section by asking a question intended hands he held two flints and some kindling. Five
to provoke thought (and perhaps some disorder): minutes later he was sitting next to a small fire. But
these were just physical objects that could be found
What two objects would you pick anywhere. The design itself consisted of a series of
Just remember for a museum exhibit entitled instructions showing what materials to assemble (flints
that, when you British education, 1910-2010? and kindling), where to place them (flints above the
kindling) and how to use them (strike the flints against
place one foot in each other).
the future, you
Like flints and kindling, the school that you teach in
leave one foot is not a design. It is a tool which, used correctly, can
help you achieve a goal. If your goal is to fix a load
in the past. As of well-established, broadly understood problems
a designer, you – like narrow corridors, lack of light and cramped
classrooms – then the outcome of your design process
need to decide will be a school that represents the high water mark of
how far you feel Victorian teaching practice.
comfortable going If, on the other hand, the goal is to end the cycle of
– then go further. unemployment and deprivation in the local community,
Paper two / Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational Service
you may find yourself in more fertile territory. Given make something new? All of these are questions that and the wider society in which they lived. Schools Here’s another one of those provocative thoughts I’ve
the task in hand, you will feel at liberty to look around Dyson asked in relation to vacuum cleaners. closed at Easter and Summer for the simple reason been asked to include:
the community, asking what resources are available, that children were needed to help with planting and
how they might be combined together and used, With that in mind, here is another provocative harvesting. As the agrarian economy gave way to the The writer Malcolm Gladwell has proved beyond
and what the benefits might be. Eventually, you question: challenge of industry, children would have been glad of doubt that the convention that schools close over
may start to bring elements together with a view to a place at school, their lives otherwise full of drudgery the summer is the main reason for working class
doing something new. Like the caveman, you will be In 2030, what percentage of time do you think learners and effort. educational under-achievement, who fall 10% further
designing. will spend sitting in classroom? Is it necessary to wait behind each year that it happens. Working through
until then before adopting the new way of working? Running an empire that spanned the globe carried an the summer would not only help to rescue the lives
All designs bring together pre-existing elements for a administrative burden that of our most vulnerable learners; it would liberate a
new purpose. No doubt, your design will also combine The writer Malcolm ran far beyond the capacity generation of mothers whose careers were wrecked so
past, present and future. Just remember that, when Four words that will shape the Gladwell has proved of the rich and titled. Thus the that teachers could have a holiday. Their taxes would
you place one foot in the future, you leave one foot in few created a way to educate more than cover the cost of a pay-rise to compensate
the past. As a designer, you need to decide how far
future of Croydon beyond doubt that the many. The classroom for loss of liberty.
you feel comfortable going – then go further. – in design terms, nothing
Anyone who has ever bought an engagement ring the convention more than a primitive mass How could we cut our educational diamond?
knows the routine. For rather more than you can afford
It’s time for another one of those thought-provoking
you receive rather less than you expected. Croydon
that schools close communications device – was
questions: the result. There, millions of Unlimited, a secondary school in Christchurch, New
is about to make a lifelong commitment, so it makes over the summer potential empire-workers Zealand, demonstrates the extent to which learning
sense to look rather more closely than usual at the
- How many types of design can you think of?
diamond. is the main reason acquired the skills that would opportunities in British schools are constrained by
help keep the sun shining boundaries of place, time, age, methods and areas
Here are two to start you off: product design and for working class on the Empire: the ability of study. There, the entire community is a learning
In this country, the best place to find out about
graphic design. If you want your new school to be a
diamonds is at Hatton Gardens in London. There, they educational under- to read, write and count, environment. Students use the public library, the parks,
success, you need to engage with each and every one essential to the administration the leisure centre and the shops, rather than having
of them. A full list is given in the appendix.
will tell you that a diamond has to be assessed against achievement, who of tax and policy; geography all of these replicated within the walls of a cloistered
four quite distinct criteria. They are:
fall 10% further and history, explaining how community.
• and why Britain came to Unlimited’s students direct their own learning, aligning
Cut behind each year
Transform: (verb). To exchange one shape, dominate a quarter of the interests with curriculum and qualification needs. So,
arrangement, structure or appearance for something earth’s surface; and religion. if the topic of the moment is conflict, one student
Carat that it happens.
fundamentally different. Whether destined to be a may research the Maori Wars, while another looks
welder, soldier, missionary at Gallipoli and a third studies Iraq. Teachers report
Herman d’Hooge, an innovation strategist at Intel, or civil servant, schools were a good training ground. that it is no more difficult than keeping an entire class
Let’s imagine that our modern schooling system
once remarked that “successful products create Each of these occupations is based on apprenticeship, focused on a subject that appeals only to some of
is a diamond – how does it measure up using this
their own valley of death” and prevent innovation hierarchy and obedience. Students wore ‘uniform’, them and that it makes for really interesting debates,
from happening around them. Forks and spoons, for sat in ‘class’ and were ‘schooled’. The output was during which students gain fresh insights into the
instance, are largely unchallenged as a way of holding generation upon generation of obedient specialists. subject from a range of perspectives.
food. Yet, as the example of chopsticks proves, there The ability to do exactly as told, to the exact
are alternatives. Cut - How well has British education been shaped? specification of the teacher, in the precise timescale Pupils at Unlimited are not constrained by age from
chosen by the teacher, remains the major asset of reaching their full potential. I met a student who
Schools are one of the most successful products of all Education is effectively based on a people who succeed at school today. was running a logo design agency with clients in
time. Replicated on a global scale, they have changed mid-Victorian church service. As can Europe and the United States. Like any adult, he
our understanding of how something is done and what be seen from the photograph, the During the early, agrarian era, schools resembled has been exempted from certain modules of his
it should look like. However, in so doing, they have classroom itself resembles a place of something from The Little House on the Prairie, but business studies course where he has already proved
killed off many of the alternatives. Today, as we build worship, with a large arched door, a they were not immune to pressure to change. The competency. With the support of his teachers, he is
schools in Uganda, we are engaged in assimilation; high ceiling and a pulpit. This format industrial economy, symbolised by the production using the time saved to take a course at university.
the price will include the death of an oral culture dating was chosen because it is uniquely line, found its parallel in schools too. Schools kept Faced with such wonderful, user-centred, flexible
back to the Stone Age. well suited to mass indoctrination the ‘one minister per church’ model, but began to put support, it is natural to ask if there is any reason why
into a single way of thinking. Having them side by side along a corridor. Like car workers, we persist with the idea of 30 pupils of the same age
In time, people at the top of institutions become dressed up for the occasion, pupils teachers now specialised in one aspect of production doing the same thing in the same way at the same
resistant to change. When James Dyson approached would come into the room and sit – geography (wheels), or Physics (engines); all day, time and for the same length of time.
Hoover with his idea for a better form of vacuum silently in rows, facing the front, just they would wait for raw materials to arrive and then
cleaner, his proposal was dismissed out of hand. like a congregation. perform the same task in order to add value. It was a Unlimited combines innovative pedagogy with
Luckily, by combining elements of past and future, system well suited to mass manufacture of identical a genuinely sustainable approach to the built
he found a way to wander through the valley of death They would perform their tasks simultaneously, doing products. environment. Instead of putting millions into
and live. Today, we are more likely to say “It’s a the same thing at the same time and in the same way That system has continued to the present day and, in destruction of buildings and construction of new ones
Dyson” than “It’s a Hoover.” We need to subject the as everyone else. The teacher, mimicking the parish at least 90% of BSF schools, is the system proposed (all in the name of sustainability), they use a grant
word “School” to the same challenge that Hoover priest, would then deliver a ‘lesson’. for the future. The problem is that manufacturing now equivalent to the annual rates and maintenance cost
faced. What is the new word that will replace “School/ provides less than a third of our economic wealth. A to rent suitable empty spaces for reconfiguration as
Schooling”? Which elements of the Victorian-inspired The Victorians were very clever in this approach to system like this, designed for white Christians, cut learning environments. Architects have shown how
design for school and schooling remain relevant, education. Not only did they choose a format that for a time of slow change and export of high quality easy it is to turn factories into flats; designers love
effective and workable? And which need to be most people already recognised (a church service), but goods, is never going to withstand the challenges of working in old warehouses; it is just as easy to turn the
replaced with something else? Where do we need to they thought holistically about the needs of the pupils the early 21st century. top floor of an office block or a shopping centre into a
place of learning.
Paper two / Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational Service
Colour – What colours our perception of school address the needs and preferences of the suppliers. Here are a few unarguable facts: colleges in the Greater London area would be
today? And what is it like to be a person of colour in Think about it: each teacher gets their own space, mandated to recruit on a 50:50 basis.
mainstream education? filled with kit that will make their jobs easier. The – 80% of black working class boys leave school at 16.
children get cheap plastic seats that damage their This compares with 77% of white middle class girls Three to five years later, children in Croydon’s schools
Our perception of educational renewal is very aptly backs and spend all day marching round in uniform as going to university. would start to see a slight shift in the appointment
summed up in the phrase “Building Schools for the if they were on parade. culture. While white teachers would remain by far the
Future”. This contains three fundamental errors. – By 2012, over half of all jobs advertised in Croydon largest group, new appointments would include equal
Children at British schools spend 1,200hours a year will require a degree. numbers of white and BME teachers.
Building. Asked to name a good design, over 90% sitting on cheap plastic seats designed for occasional,
of the British public will name an object like an iPod, short term use. Teachers are banned by law from – Within 5 years, children entering the school system in Within ten years, despite some initial institutional
an E-type Jaguar or the Pompidou Centre. No-one using them as their main seat. What are you doing Greater London will be equally split between white and resistance, a third of staff at Croydon’s schools would
ever mentions the queue, which is a brilliant way of to address this blatant age discrimination, which in other ethnicities. be of BME origin. Children of black origin would find
managing access to a scarce resource, or electronic addition to damaging children’s backs is a major themselves being taught by people who understood
payment systems, which make it so much easier to reason for loss of concentration in the classroom? their culture and could act as role models.
get into debt. Unsurprisingly, when Half of all students in some schools will be black,
...children civil servants with little or no idea of Supplier-led design began to go out of fashion in the Asian or other minority ethnic group. Is it even As the final BSF schools were completed, six of them
from black and designimprovearchitects how they
education, the answer
1960s and persists in education only because children remotely acceptable to imagine them being taught by would be run by black or Asian headteachers.
are so fundamentally disempowered. The average teachers from a single ethnic background and cultural
minority ethnic was “build new schools”. This is BSF consultation process gives less than 0.1% of the outlook?
tantamount to asking the car industry design development time to children. If, like Tesco, Carat – How valuable is school today?
communities how to improve our transport system. Nike, Apple and Toyota, the education sector was In the cold light of day the real message contained
are more likely The task is not to design a new car – it to embrace the concept of “user-led design” things in the statistics is that schools are set up to support It is great that the government has committed fully
is to design a new way of getting from would be radically different. As it is, there seems to be some sections of the community much £75 billion to transforming education. However, it
to be accused A to B. a direct correlation between teacher satisfaction with By 2012, over better than others. One of the saddest is discomfiting, to say the least, to discover that
of being the building and its resemblance to a prison:
half of all jobs truths about ourperform just as wellisas
education system they intend to spend ALL of it on buildings and
Schools. The very notion of ‘school’ that black boys infrastructure. When I asked the respected architect
improperly carries with it an image so singular This school solves a number of problems for teachers. advertised other children at age 5. However, each Alexi Marmot to state where she would put new
dressed, and and precise that scope for change is Each has their own classroom, with glass walls year thereafter they fall further and buildings on the ‘educational bang-for-the-buck’
limited to tinkering with the shape. allowing light to enter and assuring passing students
in Croydon further behind. The reason for this has spectrum she said “the building is the last thing you
three times This is known as ‘styling.’ It is the part that they are being watched. Corridors also supply will require a nothing to do with ability and everything should change.”
of the design process that has least
more likely to impact on performance, yet it is the
good sight lines over the entire area. Shrinking the
to do with perception: as a DCSF report
classrooms slightly and putting gates at the end of the published in 2007 found, “When marked Alexi is a very gifted and insightful architect. She was
be excluded part that headteachers give most time corridors is really all that would be needed to create “blind”, black children “significantly not saying that the building should not be changed;
to. Imagine If we could set it aside
from school. for a moment and instead consider
a truly secure environment. The relationship between outperformed” their white peers. But when assessed rather that it should be changed after everything else
staff and students is bound to by their teachers, the opposite was the case.” has been reassessed. And in so doing she was also
the many ways in which educational be tense. admitting that changing how you teach will have much
services could be made available across the whole Some people may be asking what all this has to do more impact on learning than changing where you
community. Soon we would be talking about Open One of the major factors colouring teacher perception with BSF. Well, British schools are being designed by teach.
University schools, drop-in centres, mobile learning of children is their willingness to comply. If children a single sector of society. Naturally, the school of the
centres, on-line institutions and, yes, a number of refuse to go to Mathematics at the pre-determined future, as envisaged by these white, middle class and We have, several times in the past, embarked on
traditional schools, available in a range of sizes. All but time, the school will not be able to function. bookish people, is one in which they will continue a programme of building-led change. The idea is
the last of these would be cheaper to build and run, Willingness to wear uniform as told becomes a test of to flourish. that the building will somehow catalyse systemic
and the evidence suggests that most would be more obedience; children who do not conform can quickly innovation. This seldom if ever happens. More often,
effective. find themselves excluded from mainstream education. In Northern Ireland, where the police force was lack of systemic thinking means that staff arrive in the
Unfortunately, children from black and minority ethnic similarly weighted in favour of one community, genuine new school with only one operational model in their
Future. Rather than doing the future a favour, we may communities are more likely to be accused of being transformation required recruitment to the police head (the old one). When the new building, complete
be in danger of sabotaging it. For some unfathomable improperly dressed, and three times more likely to be to be done on a 50:50 basis. Over a with partition walls and big open spaces, proves less
reason, possibly linked to raging political ego, it was excluded from school. 80% of black period of twenty years, the entire police capable than the old building to support traditional
decided that we should rebuild or renew all of our force will come to be representative of teaching, staff set about rearranging it as before.
schools in one go. As a result, they will all age at the What is it like to be a person working the community it serves. Something Partition walls are closed and bricked up; open spaces
same rate and become decrepit at the same time. of colour in a British school? class boys similar, implemented across Greater are partitioned off; staff refuse to commit extra time
Rather than building them all at once, we could have London during the same timeframe as to training. Instead, they grumble that nothing works
opted to rebuild 2% of them every year for 50 years, In Croydon today, over leave school BSF, would deliver transformation of in the new school. If you don’t believe that this will
spreading costs and ensuring that each generation
of buildings would be better than the last. Teachers
100 different languages at 16. This outcomes on a scale not seen since our happen to you, then listen to heads who have recently
are spoken by people from system was invented by the Victorians. been through the process. Around 90% of schools
working in schools would be incentivised to develop at least the same number compares with built so far through BSF have been rated “poor” or
practice more than once every fifty years. of countries. Yet schools 77% of white If London and Croydon implemented “very poor” by staff using them.
continue to reflect an the Northern Ireland Patten Report.
As it is, many teachers look to the future as a place extraordinary degree of middle class Recognising that, within five years, The cost to society of building a new school is
that will solve all their problems. Their approach to institutional bias in favour up to half of children entering school primarily measured in the cost of construction
school design is known in the industry as “supplier-led of white, middle class and
girls going to would be of black and minority ethnic (£20m+). This represents approximately 5% of
design”. That means the building has been created to bookish learners. university. backgrounds, all teacher training the actual costs of having a school for 20 years, if