Design Ventura awards: The age of creativity is not dead in the UK's state schools

The awards allow schools to create a product for the future and give students a sense of adventure

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The Independent Online

For the winning school, Burnage Academy in Manchester, it was designing a set of playing cards to which you could add to a set of cogs to build whatever you might imagine – a bus, a house, a train station.

The runner up, Bishop Douglass School in Finchley, designed a button hoop for carrying spectacles on your shirt-front.

This is the Design Ventura awards – so named because they allow schools to create a product for the future and give students a sense of adventure – which have seen a staggering 25,661 pupils in 778 secondary schools competing for the design prize over the past six years.

The top 10 every year get the chance to do a pitch on their design to a panel of eminent judges and then the winners get to have their work on display in the shop at the Design Museum – and even offered for sale.

"The product has sold out every year," says Helen Charman, the museum's director of learning and research.

It is a timely reminder the age of creativity is not dead in the UK's state schools – although Design Museum staff have picked up mutterings that design and technology is being squeezed in some schools.

It is a development that teachers fear can only be exacerbated by the Government's latest pronouncement that every teenager must study the five subjects of the English Baccalaureate – English, maths, science, a language and history or geography.

Tomorrow the Burnage Academy's Card Cogs – as their development is called – will go on sale in the Design Museum shop for the first time.

Steve Bentley, head of design technology at Burnage Academy, says that winning the competition had helped boost the number of students opting to take design and technology at the school this year. "The opportunity to apply 'real world' design and enterprise practice and venture outside the classroom has been invaluable," he says.

Let us hope other schools which enter the competition see a similar trend as Burnage Academy – they are, after all, helping produce the entrepreneurs of the future.

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