Students and teachers presented the outstanding results of seven months collaborative work between six FE Colleges and one HE institution this month. 200 students and 14 lecturers were involved in the inspiring Sorell Foundation Young Design Programme, sponsored by the South East London Lifelong Learning Network (SELLLN).

The project started two years ago when Baroness Blackstone, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, indicated that the University's School of Architecture and Construction should join up with the Sorrell Foundation.

Concomitantly, Lucy Jenks, Lifelong Learning Coordinator at SELLLN, was also approaching the Sorrell Foundation, in search of a programme to underpin the progression agreements between FE Colleges and University Art and Design departments. Ideally, a project which would give FE students a real insight into Higher Education.

The result is a challenging cross-educational project and an ambitious scheme with several positive end-results. The projects were described by one of the mentor-architects as "beautiful and sophisticated ideas".

The core principle behind the Young Design Programme (YDP) is for young people to act as clients. This time, however, their designers are students from Universities, who in turn are mentored by professional designers. As well as giving students a professional perspective, the mentors advise them on how to work with clients.

The briefs set-up by FE college students/clients evolved around improving their college environment. For example, the Blue Design Team from Bexley College put together a brief which aimed at reconstructing the design studio into storage-exhibition space. On Celebration Day, they presented their ideas and design solutions in a gorilla report.

Yristos Sfetsios, currently studying for a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design at Lambeth, described the whole experience as being "lots of fun and an opportunity to identify issues and see different social backgrounds".

College students who participated in the YDP have developed a range of valuable life skills. Moreover, their university applications stand in good stead. Some of the second year FE students have been offered a place to study at Greenwich University in September.

For the Higher Education students who provided design solutions, the experience of working on live briefs with a client team of dynamic young people, and under the guidance of industry professionals, helped them to develop a range of professional skills that will be invaluable when they embark on careers in the creative industries.

To conclude this memorable celebration, Sir John and Lady Francy Sorrell addressed the audience praising the motivation and work of the client and design teams before presenting the proud students with their certificate of achievements.

Solange Berchemin

 

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