Unlocking The Possibilities Of Design

Posted 28th Sep 2019

The Cheltenham Design Academy class of 2019 is starting this October, for a 20 week programme that will open up the possibilities of design to 12-16 year olds.

The Cheltenham Design Foundation, founded in 2009 by a group of professionals living and working in Gloucestershire, established the Cheltenham Design Academy to help young people find their creative voice and show them what design can do.

For students aged 12-16 years, the free Saturday design school teaches process and practice across a range of design disciplines inline with the industrial and innovation needs of today and tomorrow.

Through practical sessions lead by industry professionals, the academy teaches young people in Cheltenham how to embrace original thinking and understand what design can do to transform the world.

John Ingledew teaching at the Design Academy

As well as opening their eyes to available job opportunities within the creative sector, teaching creativity is at the academy’s core and underpins everything they do.

“My daughter Lizzie came home buzzing with such inspiration as never before – reassessing the way she sees life and all its possibilities” Parent of Lizzie – Design Academy Student


Why The Design Academy So Important

In short, creative disciplines in schools are under attack.

The introduction of the English Baccalaureate qualification (Ebacc) to schools by the Department for Education in 2010, came at the cost of art and design subjects.

The qualification aims to ensure students study a range of core GCSE subjects, which keep their options open for further education and careers. But the Ebacc’s core subjects don’t include art or design.

According to the Design Council research, the schools who are measured on their students’ performance in the qualification, are dropping the teaching of non-core subjects in droves.

The Design Council’s ‘Designing a future economy’ research found that the pipeline of future designers had nosedived since 2000. The research found that the number of students holding design and technology at GCSE-level was down 60%.

Even more tellingly 50% of schools had closed their Art or Design and Technology departments altogether since the subjects ceased to be core to the curriculum. (Is the UK economy being damaged by our design education policy?)

Organisations like The Cheltenham Design Foundation, Design Club, the Design Council and the Nation Saturday Club are all working hard to counter this trend.

As are companies like JCB and Dyson who provide their own creative courses and programmes to help bridge that gap between education and employment.

The Design Academy’s Approach

The Design Academy experience is fun and stimulating. It’s participative, engaging and action oriented. Every professional that teaches at the Design Academy understand that the learning experience is enhanced by doing.

Their aim is to encourage their students to do, make, think, discover, strive, experiment and collaborate.

The Design Academy works with secondary schools in Cheltenham and runs each session from the University of Gloucestershire’s Park Campus.

Their wide curriculum is set by design professionals, covering many areas of the creative spectrum including user experience, digital, graphics, product design, packaging, fashion, engineering, landscape design, architecture, photography and film.

And their hard work is making a real impact.

“Thanks for the fantastic insight into the world of design that you’ve given our children. Jennifer comes home each week full of enthusiasm and new knowledge. The course has enabled her to have the confidence to decide on a direction for her future education and life.” – Mum of Jennifer – a Design Academy student.


Creative Juice Academy Taster Session

The Cheltenham Design Academy team will be at this years Design Festival on Sunday 3rd November for their Creative Juice academy taster session – a free interactive workshop for 8-16 year olds on creative thinking and the process of generating ideas.

Practicing design professionals will introduce each delegate to the process and practice of design disciplines and how to solve problems with creative thinking.

This workshop is perfect for anyone considering a creative career or who is interested in finding out what it’s like to be a designer.

You find out more about the session times and how to book here. 

If you would like to know more about the Cheltenham Design Academy, how to volunteer, host a session or list your school to participate, please download the full Cheltenham Design Academy Prospectus.