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Donaldson Conference

Donaldson Conference

On the 4th of February 2016, Cardiff Millennium Centre was host to the Donaldson Conference where the Smarter Spaces campaign had the opportunity to present learner led design to over 200 Welsh schools.

Speaking at the event, Professor Donaldson's discussed how his report champions six 'areas of learning and experience' as the basis for Wales' new curriculum, which would transcend all learning from the age of three through to 16. Janet Hayward OBE, Head Teacher of Cadoxton Primary School and a passionate supporter of the Smarter Spaces campaign helped arrange for us to host one of the 'Speed Learning' rotations, where school leaders spent 10 minutes discussing several different topics.

With the campaign fairly unknown in Wales due to its local focus in 2015, it was a fantastic opportunity to not only discuss the potential of learner led design with these schools, but understand how Smarter Spaces could support the specific needs of Welsh schools from launch in March.

The output of the rotations was incredibly motivating - schools across Wales are going through a radical but welcome change to their curriculum, with learner engagement and empowerment at the centre of it.

While every school acknowledged that budget was often a reason to limit ideas, the excitement of engaging learners in the process led to some great discussion, creative ideas and a lot of business card swapping! What was obvious across all interactions was that there is an appetite for Smarter Spaces across the country - not simply to make schools look visually interesting but to rethink how the learning environment can specifically support teaching and learning in their schools.

We now look forward to seeing at least 250 creative submissions for the Young Designer competition, showcasing just how much learners care about their school and the environment they work in.