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Design for living

The profile of design work in schools is higher than ever. Glasgow schools grabbed the limelight at this month's International Festival of Design 1996. Education had a high profile in the festival, which took place in venues throughout the city and was a forerunner of Glasgow's much grander City of Architecture and Design 1999 project.

School students and teachers rubbed shoulders with top international designers as they exhibited their work alongside Paul Smith's True Brit fashion exhibition and the Objects of Desire show with design classics by Le Corbusier and Ducati.

The schools' exhibition, Design Excellence, at the former Post Office building in George Square, presented the results of a year's work - including designer-in-residence schemes, fashion, environmental, computer and technology design projects. It followed the publication of a new schools' magazine, Design Times, the launch of Design On-Line, an Internet web site showing design work in Glasgow schools, and the schools' participation in three series of design programmes for BBC Scotland.

Design studies are firmly embedded in the Scottish school system. In the 5-14 curriculum, design is present in environmental studies and expressive arts, but until this year it was not a high priority for some schools.

"There is a lot of interest in design because of the new 5-14 curriculum, '' says Stuart MacDonald, education programme director of the design festival, "but people have been focusing on English and mathematics. They are only now turning to expressive arts and environmental studies."

Some support and advice for teachers are provided through in-service training. "But external agencies,'' he says, "can do all sorts of things, like introducing schools to designers and producing resources which are interesting, visual and topical."

In October, MacDonald becomes education director of City of Architecture and Design 1999. "The 1996 design festival gives us a good template for 1999 activities. We will be focusing on designer architects-in-residence schemes, on teachers' placements in design firms, workshops and masterclasses, and curriculum development - including further publications and the use of the Internet.

"Then there will also be big public events, like exhibitions, each year. Putting school work on a public platform raises the profile of design and architecture. Schools see their work in a new light and other people see it and discuss it. There's a public sharing of what education can mean.'' MacDonald believes artist designer-in-residence schemes help schools relate to the community, while also achieving 5-14 curriculum targets. "When they work properly, placements give professionals a new level of access to education and teachers benefit because they learn new skills and update their attitudes. "

Details: Stuart MacDonald on 0141 227 1999. Design On-Line http: Standard Grade Design, BBC2, Tuesdays 9am, until October 22. Around Scotland: Design, for upper primary pupils, BBC2, Monday and Wednesday mornings, October 28 to November 27. Design Matters 2 from Alexia Holt, Glasgow School of Art (tel: 0141 353 4554).

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