Professional help

12th March 2004 at 00:00
For a week in the summer you can have a Terence Conran or a Paul Priestman in your classroom. This is not a fantasy - the Designers into Schools scheme, which runs from June 21 to 25, can deliver exactly that.

The scheme, now in its third year, began when Ofsted inspectors noticed that "making" skills outstripped "designing" skills among design-and-technology students. The Design Council thought that getting designers into the classroom might help.

Last year, Colin Constable, a Damp;T teacher at Warren Comprehensive in Barking and Dagenham had the designer Sarah Wilton in his classroom for two days. She works for Bennett Interior Design, and contributed to the interiors of the new Gherkin building in central London.

Colin Constable says: "She showed us her work on that project and she got the pupils involved in designing a classroom for the future. She had a very good rapport with the Year 10s and the sixth-formers. She found it hard work but enjoyable. And the students reacted very well to the challenging exercises she set them."

Last year, about 400 schools in England participated, 25 per cent up on the first year's numbers. The procedure is simple: schools sign up for the project and the Design Council finds designers.

Helen Thompson of the Design Council explains: "We marry the designers to relevant schools. The location is often important - we want to make sure that the designer doesn't live or work miles away. Also a designer may prescribe a particular area he or she would be willing to go to: Kenneth Grange, for instance, designer of the Anglepoise lamp, attends schools in the south-west region.

"We explain to schools when they sign up that we can't guarantee a designer for everyone who registers."

But such is the impetus behind the scheme that more designers are likely to turn out this year - and the latest news is that two of them are Wayne Hemingway, award-winning designer and co-founder of Red or Dead, and Kenneth Grange. So join the queue.

Helen Thompson Tel: 020 7420 5286 Email:

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