What People Say

Here are some of the things people have said about the Sorrell Foundation programmes:

‘There’s nobody better to work with than young people because young people have less cluttered minds than us grown ups.’
Paul Smith, Designer

‘We learnt how to improve things – we wouldn’t have learnt that in school. We learnt to work with each other and to work with professionals. And I’ve learnt to give ideas more time, rather than just relying on first impressions.’
Client, 14

‘Throughout this process the girls have become owners of their space and they have learnt that young people can actually have a voice and make a difference.’
Teacher

‘The kids can list the problems in a school quicker than teachers or governors. That’s very important.’
Sam Jacob, Designer

‘Working with the designers has given me confidence to suggest ideas and, if people don’t agree with them, getting feedback. I’ve realised: “Well, perhaps that wasn’t such a good idea,” and I’ve been able to think it through in my own head.’
Client, 15

‘If people demand better quality of their environment, not just as clients but as users as well, then the quality of the whole environment will improve. And where better to start than at school and in their own school?’
Julia Barfield, Architect

‘The thing I learnt most with SPY, was to look at things more in depth, and see how things have meaning and why they have been put there. I now have a better way of looking at things.’
Client, 14

‘They learnt to speak their minds, to have opinions, to be involved, not to stand back. These are key skills.’
Teacher

‘What’s really good about it is it’s a real project. It’s also cross-curricular in the very best sense. It’s actually like real work. They’ve chosen a particular design brief, they’ve been acting as the client to professionals, engaging in all sorts of dialogues and processes, consulting with our staff, governors, students. The skills that they’ve used in this are phenomenal.’
School Principal

‘I can honestly say that the joinedupdesignforschools programme totally changed my life. When we spoke at Downing Street I was really nervous: everyone was so professional it was nerve-wracking. But then a speaker from Demos got up to talk after us and he said: “I don’t want to speak after those two girls!,” which made me really proud and realise what I was capable of.’
Former client, 20

‘There have been a lot of ups and downs in our project, which has made me see that the design process isn’t simple and a lot of different people are involved in a project like this.’
Student design consultant

‘Kids smell a lie a mile off; it’s like the joke that’s not funny – adults laugh at it, kids won’t. So, to get anywhere in this collaboration, it has to be absolutely honest. It’s a truthful process; in terms of design, it’s a first.’
Simon Waterfall, Designer

‘I’ve learnt that there are no boundaries; you can go as far as you want to go and you just have to have an open mind, so that you are willing to allow this to be actually true.’
Client, 15

‘Government now requires us under the Every Child Matters agenda to involve young people in service design and improvement. This project has given us a wonderful experience of doing just that, and given us the confidence to start incorporating such involvement into our day-to-day project development procedures.’
Trevor Cooper, Cornwall County Council

‘The students changed so much during this project. They became really confident. Enthusiastic. Our independent, high-fliers learnt to take other people’s views into account. And seeing the shy students doing presentations has been great.’
Teacher

‘It’s really opened my eyes because I’ve discovered how the outside world works. It’s given us experience of what’s what with everything. I’ve definitely become easier to work with. I was quite independent, but I now know that teamwork can get you somewhere.’
Client, 14

‘It was great to meet students from other colleges and see their work. I was surprised we all faced similar issues.’
Student design consultant

‘It had such vigour, life and enthusiasm. It was really stimulating. It was the key that unlocked the process. Their brief was highly intelligent, all about light, space, environment, even acoustic separation. Very profound.’
Keith Priest, Architect

‘I’ll be feeling very proud of my involvement. It will be like: “Wow, look what I’ve helped with, look what I’ve done.” It’s raised my morale and it’s raised the morale of the rest of the team.’
Client, 14

‘This is the first time we’ve been asked what we think about our school.’
Client, 8

‘It’s been absolutely priceless working with the kids. Nobody knows more than they do about their school environment and how they use it, so they are the perfect client.’
William Warren, Designer

‘From this experience I’ve learnt to say my own opinions and express what I feel truthfully.’
Client, 16

‘They didn’t have much notion of how something goes from ideas to practice. They do now!’
Teacher

‘We designed a building! I would have found it hard to believe I could do this six months ago.’
Student design consultant

‘The sense of empowerment has been so important. We’ve trusted the pupils to come up with something strategic for the school. We are always looking for ways to motivate young people, the keys that can unlock potential. The children have benefited immensely.’
Head teacher

‘Most of us went to dodgy, ugly schools, and it fires you up to think: “What if schools were inspiring? What if schools were what they are not? What if they weren’t rubbish?”’
Thomas Heatherwick, Designer

‘You’re in control. The teacher doesn’t set the work; you set the work. You’re not in control much at school. But in this you were. I’ve learnt skills that would be useful in a job interview because you have to tell adults you’ve never met all about yourself.’
Client, 15

‘I’ve learnt self-respect. I now know that I’m important because I’ve helped out with such an important task. I am part of a team.’
Client, 15

‘They learnt new social skills, team-working, listening, thinking, answering questions, plus digital skills, how to do a presentation, how to look at images. And how to make a short film, complete with story-boarding and editing, which enhanced literacy. But self-esteem was the big issue. That really improved!’
Teacher

‘A comfortable seat makes learning easier.’
Client, 10

‘It was a complete joy working with the children.’
Soraya Khan, Architect

‘This collaboration between students and designers offers coherence to student learning. They’re learning leadership skills, communications skills ... and they are learning to learn, learning to find things out for themselves and transfer the knowledge from one curriculum area to another.’
Assistant Head

‘It made me feel more confident about getting a job. On the visit I saw so many different places, it made me feel confident to go elsewhere. It made me feel that there was a point to the whole school experience.’
Client, 15

‘I think they learnt so well because this was so personal and they cared about it. It was their hall and they wanted to have ownership of the changes. And being called a “client team” from day one gave them a special sense of stature in the school. They felt special, like ambassadors for the school.’
Teacher

‘It’s a different way of learning, because you’re not just sitting there and getting stuff out of books. You’re giving your ideas. You don’t just sit there and listen to a teacher. It makes me feel a lot better. It made me feel excited It’s a different way of learning like I can’t wait!’
Client, 12

‘We need to develop new ideas for school design that are exciting and really work. To deliver the best and most effective education, school buildings need to be designed so that they stimulate children’s imaginations and reflect advances in technology.’
Mukund Patel, Architects and Buildings Division, DfES

‘William taught me to believe in myself drawing. I never used to – I used to get irritated. Now I just believe in myself and I can draw – just like that!’
Client, 9

‘This group were probably going to be academically successful but they didn’t have belief in themselves, didn’t think they could make a success of a career. They clearly now see themselves as people of worth. Everyone on the project, to a person, has been influenced in this way. It’s just wonderful.’
Head teacher

‘The pupils had a real spark and enthusiams for it, and got excited by the possibilities of design.’
Young Design Programme Manager

‘It was a real change working with people who know their stuff. It’s one thing to talk about these things in D&T, but it’s not the same as doing it, as we have done. And you learnt about costs as well.’
Client, 14

‘The best thing about it was having my work criticised by the pupils. They are brutally honest.’
Student design consultant

‘I’ve learnt how to relate with adults better. I’ve definitely become more ambitious in what I want out of my life. Before this I was just going with the flow.’
Client, 14

‘They’ve been highly motivated. They’ll be able to transfer these skills into the classroom. They’ve developed listening skills, communication skills and problem-solving. And they’ve learnt to step back and evaluate before going on. These are the skills that will make them very employable in the future.’
Head teacher

‘We became much better at putting our views forward. I know I did. I think that will really help in job interviews. I understood the importance and value of my own ideas.’
Client, 13

‘You can’t get a more honest client than a child. They either like it, or they don’t. It’s refreshing, and also terrifying. Adult clients don’t say what they mean, they’re more cautious, but with children you show them something, and you get an instant response.’
Zoe Bather, Designer

‘It gives you an insight into what, when you leave school, to expect being an adult, how you’ve got to work, and how you’ve got to organise yourself.’
Client, 15

‘They learnt all sorts of communication skills, self-esteem skills, giving them confidence, which I’m sure they will transfer to other areas of the curriculum. It’s been wonderful for them and, whatever happens, they’ve got ownership of it in the school community; they’ve really, really felt it’s a very important role they’ve had.’
Head teacher

‘For me it was all about confidence. Talking to people. Before I’d be shy even to talk to grown ups. Now I can chat away to them.’
Client, 15

‘They looked at the use of space, colour, texture, form and function. They learnt transferable skills about managing time and working to deadlines. They developed communication and presentation skills. Crucially, they learnt how to talk about their work. It raised their confidence and raised their self-esteem. The self-esteem issue cannot be underestimated.’
Teacher

‘We need to cut ties with our past poor reputation, and celebrate the good work that goes on in this school.’
Client, 14

‘Working in a team and learning about my strengths and weaknesses has helped develop my character.’
Student design consultant

‘To be allowed to offer frank, honest criticisms and to feel comfortable to voice ideas, are not privileges usually synonymous with schoolchildren. It gave me confidence to speak up and challenge others. It introduced us to the concept of “thinking outside the box”. Now I aim high and strive to achieve high.’
Former client, 20

‘If you ask students their opinions and give them responsibility, then they will often surpass your wildest dreams.’
Head teacher

‘The best part of it was the pupils’ response – it really motivated us.’
Student design consultant

‘The school is situated in an area of social deprivation with high levels of unemployment. Some pupils on the estate live with awful deprivation. So the major, major thing about this programme was it raised their aspirations.’
Teacher