The V%26A Museum

The V&A’s new DesignLabNation project will provide opportunities for school trips. We decided to find out more.

At the end of April, The V&A announced its plans to launch a national programme to ‘revive’ design education for 11 to 16 year olds. 

The new DesignLabNation initiative will officially be set in motion in September, in order to coincide with the start of the new Design & Technology GCSE. 

The scheme will see the V&A lending items from it collections to regional museums and galleries, in order for them to develop on-site educational opportunities for secondary school pupils.

These educational opportunities will take the form of projects, which will focus on inspiring creativity amongst the next generation of designers.  

In addition to simply lending its exhibition pieces, the V&A will also work with the local museums to develop the content of the projects, to help recruit schools, and to provide a programme of CPD for teachers. 

In its pilot year, two regions will be involved in DesignLabNation – Coventry and Blackburn – with the scheme’s creators planning to extend it to Sheffield and two other locations in year two. 

In Coventry, both the Herbert Museum & Art Gallery and Coventry Transport Museum will be involved. In Blackburn, Blackburn Museum will be the hub of the project. 

According to the V&A these two locations were chosen based on their historical links to design. Blackburn has a rich history of cotton and textile production, while Coventry was once at the centre of the second largest car industry in the world. 

Educational opportunities created as part of DesignLabNation will draw on these local histories to inspire the pupils involved. 

Commenting on the new initiative, Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said: “At a time when the creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest national and economic assets, we want to inspire and support students and teachers as the new Design and Technology GSCE arrives this autumn. 

"The V&A has a responsibility to protect and promote design education for the future. By bringing together local industry, museums and schools, DesignLab Nation will ensure that the V&A delivers on our founding purpose, to educate and inspire the artists, innovators, designers and creatives of tomorrow.”   

The new scheme will build on the already extensive learning programmes at each location. The Herbert Museum & Art Gallery currently offers Art and Creative Practice sessions for Key Stages 1 to 5, in addition to workshops on History and Literacy. 

Coventry Transport Museum, meanwhile, welcomes both primary and secondary schools for visits linked to everything from History to Drama. 

Blackburn Museum’s educational offering spans the curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2. Example workshops include Portraits for Key Stage 1 and Life in Ancient Egypt for Key Stage 2. 

Further details of the form that DesignLabNation will take in each location will be revealed in the coming months.

To keep updated on the project you can sign up to the V&As newsletter at