Today, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will launch the National Schools Programme – the UK’s first nationwide architectural learning programme for schoolchildren.
The programme partners schools with expertly-trained architects (RIBA Architecture Ambassadors), who volunteer their time to deliver bespoke and creative, curriculum-linked workshops for children aged 4-18. The programme is free of charge to schools, thanks to the generosity of its supporters.
The RIBA’s National Schools Programme will help thousands of children to explore and understand the built environment – its impact on people and communities; how it is shaped and developed; and why good design is important. Architecture is not a subject that is taught as part of the school curriculum. The aim of the programme is to foster a generation that understands the impact and importance of excellent architecture and is inspired with the confidence, knowledge and skills to make their voices heard.
The launch of a comprehensive nationwide programme follows a successful pilot phase that engaged a diverse range of 18,000 young people, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, in over 200 schools across England. The pilot was delivered by 349 Architecture Ambassadors from 170 architecture practices.
A specially commissioned short film about the RIBA’s National Schools Programme, showing the workshops in action, can be seen here:
Speaking about the programme, RIBA President Ben Derbyshire says: "The RIBA believes that everyone has a part to play in shaping their built environment, and we are committed to empowering young people through this nationwide programme. The huge enthusiasm and commitment of the individual architects and their practices in giving their time to make this programme possible is impressive. We are proud that our pilot project has already reached 18,000 young people, all over the country, and we look forward to inspiring thousands more.”
The RIBA’s National Schools Programme offers a bespoke variety of workshops, matched to the individual needs, resources and interests of the school. For example, projects can involve exploring the local area and understanding key issues affecting the local community. Projects in the pilot phase have included huge large-scale models made of bamboo and proposals for creating ‘a city of the future’.
Recent projects include:
Ladypool Primary School + Architect Jyotsna Sudev
Architect Jyotsna Sudev worked with Ladypool Primary School in Birmingham. During two creative sessions, Jyotsa helped 30 children to re-design their outdoor forest area which had been earmarked for future development by the school. They explored the role of an architect; learned about scale, perspective and proportion; and developed their design ideas by building scale models and outdoor dens, using every-day and recycled materials.
The Phoenix School + Matthew Springett Associates
The architects partnered with the Phoenix School, a special educational needs and development (SEND) setting for students with varying degrees of autism and physical disabilities. Over five weeks they worked with 15 13-16 year olds on a project linked to Art and Design and Technology where they looked at patterns in drawings by the influential Italian architect, Andrea Palladio. The students were encouraged to work individually and collectively, resulting in an suspended bamboo model of their chosen Palladio drawing, built at an impressive scale.
Canan Ahmet, teacher, Rokesly Junior School too part in the pilot phase: “The RIBA National Schools Programme is run by a team of passionate, professional, creative and inspiring individuals who care about architecture as well as all the children they seek to. Working with a team of talented architects, as well as RIBA, has ensured that our children are able to develop life skills, such as team work, solving a brief, problem solving and communication. The programme raises aspirations and creates potential careers pathways for some architects of tomorrow.”
Yemi Alederum, Architecture Ambassador: “I joined the National Schools Programme as it allowed me to build on my commitment to boost training and broaden access and employment opportunities for young and disadvantaged people.
My ultimate aim for students at Hammersmith Academy, my partner school, is that they see the difference they can make to their surroundings, develop a sense of ownership of these spaces and start to engage with their built environment in truly meaningful ways.”
The RIBA is a charity that relies on funding to run the National Schools Programme. We are very grateful to the following supporters, and welcome further support from others:
Clore Duffield Foundation
Ernest Cook Trust
Garfield Weston Foundation
Hull UK City of Culture
Kirby Laing Foundation
Old Possum’s Practical Trust
Rogers, Stirk, Harbour & Partners
Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851
The Sackler Trust
Over 18 million copies of Primary Times magazines are distributed every year through primary schools in 59 regions across the UK and Ireland.