It was only two years ago, just as the Fixperts programme really embedded in universities internationally, and the Fixperts archive reached a couple of hundred of films, that our attention shifted to schools. Our take up in universities was already beyond our wildest dreams, and had some way to go. But we were starting to understand that by the time students arrived at undergraduate level we had missed many, many opportunities to effect change.
Our dual approach is to address both low levels of skills and to influence attitudes in young creative people; to do that we have enter the conversation earlier. Our linking of imagination and skills to creative problem solving is relevant not only to designers, but to engineers, and doctors, and artists and all the people who have the possibility of making impact on our common future. Our conclusion could only be that we needed to get into schools – but how?
A conversation with Comino Foundation started a fruitful relationship. Their vision is to ensure people are “equipped and motivated to live fulfilling and purposeful lives” – how great is that? And somehow, considering the tiny and disorganised ‘organisation’ we were at that point, they decided to have faith in us and support us to prototype and pilot formats which could adapt the Fixperts framework for schools. Through the end of 2016 we ran a full set of pilot workshops from London to Bristol to Rochdale which proved to us that Fixperts could be as relevant and resonant in secondary schools as in universities, and perhaps even more impactful.
So where are we now? Well off the back of that pilot programme we have materials available for schools to run Fixperts in formats from an hour to a day to a full term. This is exciting enough, but building from this experience a new relationship with AQA, a UK examination board, has led to Fixperts being featured centrally in a draft STEM technical qualification, which if approved by the Department for Education will mean that Fixperts is available to schools nationally from September 2017.
And we have plans! We’re developing teacher training, and have just been commissioned to adapt materials for a clubs format which we look forward to sharing in due course. Again Comino Foundation have stepped in, helping us to develop ways to consolidate and grow our presence in schools. We have new and developing relationships in the D&T, STEM & STEAM communities who, we hope, will become not just acquaintances but comrades in arms. We were aiming to shake up the way young people acquire essential 21st century skills – this recent progress indicates we might have some fighting chance of making that a reality.
Written by Dee Halligan