National Schools Ideas Project

ASD Projects were invited by the Department of Children Schools and Families and the Royal Institute of British Architects to deliver a Schools Design Capacity Building programme to share ideas to help improve the quality of school design and innovation for the DCSF’s school investment programmes including Primary Capital Projects and Building Schools for the Future over a three- year period.

More about the project

In 2009 Cass Projects was approached by the Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) and the RIBA to co-ordinate a national academic and research programme with Schools of Architecture linked to the Building Schools for the Future programme in England.

We developed an innovative brief for the National Schools Ideas Project designed to allow collaboration on a series of live projects that would bridge academia and professional practice whilst addressing real and current issues facing schools design at the height of an ambitious national schools building programme.

The aim of the project was to contribute to ongoing and emerging debates in school design and to the DCSF’s thinking utilising students’ recent experiences in education and ability to take a fresh position in relation to current design guidance.

Writing the brief

The brief described a number of unique opportunities that the students could avail of through their projects such as the ability to take a critical stance in relation to current orthodoxies and design guidance; engagement with a live brief to design for changes in the way music and arts education were evolving with the resulting structures to be funded by Croydon Council; brief development in participation with school children, teachers, parents and governors facilitated by the Sorrell Foundation and DCSF.

Results and dissemination

Symposia were held at the award winning Westminster Academy in the Winter of 2009 and the Libeskind designed Graduate Centre at London Metropolitan University in Spring 2010 where the students came together to share their work.

The results included a series of projects that sought to bring learning out of a secondary school in South London into the public sphere through responses such as a street dance studio and productive estate gardens; the integration of Special Educational Needs into a mainstream Academy in Derbyshire; the upgrading and re-design of a CLASP system built school in Nottingham to provide a community centred space capable of supporting individualised teaching programmes.

An exhibition at the RIBA in September 2010 documented the programme.

St Mary’s Catholic High School Workshop Unit 5, Croydon

The brief

With the National Schools Ideas Project, the approach of the ‘collaborative brief’ facilitated a collaboration between a number of Schools of Architecture around a common theme in order to develop a diversity of outcomes.

Cass Projects drew up a brief that was designed to be both expanded and met by the “players”, the participating Schools of Architecture, with the aim of contributing to the ongoing and emerging debates about school design. These debates were prompted by what was at the time a programme of unprecedented capital investment in England’s secondary schools, Building Schools for the Future.

The project was commissioned by the Labour government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families and was delivered with the support of the quango responsible for delivering the programme, Partnerships for Schools, and RIBA amongst others.

Project images and exhibition panels

 Exhibition at RIBA
Exhibition at RIBA 2nd - 30th September 2010

2nd - 30th September 2010 

 Exhibition at RIBA
Exhibition at RIBA 2nd - 30th September 2010 2

2nd - 30th September 2010 

 Growing Our Future
Growing Our Future Fertile environments for plants and people

Fertile environments for plants and people 

 Longfield Academy
Longfield Academy Kent School students & Dylan Haughton Architects

Kent School students & Dylan Haughton Architects 

 School Grounds
School Grounds Kingston University Diploma Unit 1

Kingston University Diploma Unit 1 

 Worlds Within Worlds
Worlds Within Worlds London Met Dip 5

London Met Dip 5 

 Camberwell Campus
Camberwell Campus London Met Dip 12

London Met Dip 12 

 Shirebrook Academy
Shirebrook Academy Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam University 

 Chilwell School
Chilwell School University of Nottingham Diploma Year 5

University of Nottingham Diploma Year 5