John Lyons Charity Header

V&A Blog

Holly Burton is the Project Coordinator for the DesignLab project at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Here she discusses how she is recruiting schools from the Charity’s beneficial area to participate in the project and sign up to sessions - and the challenges she is facing.

Final Blog Entry - October 2014

In June 2011, John Lyon’s Charity generously awarded a grant of £60,000 over three years to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The overall aim of the grant was to increase the number of students from John Lyon’s Charity target boroughs taking part in, and benefitting from, the Art, Design & Technology strand of the V&A Secondary Programme. It’s now three years on and we are delighted with how successful the initiative has been.

Prior to the initiative (2009-2011) only 10% of schools in the seven target boroughs had engaged in the Secondary Programme. Over the three years of the initiative 80% of the targeted schools have engaged, 2,345 students have taken part in workshops and
outreach sessions, and 422 teachers have attended CPD events.

One of the main successes of the initiative has been the relationships that we have been able to forge with schools from the target boroughs. The appointment of the Project Coordinator meant that schools received a high level of personal contact and time could be spent talking to schools individually about their needs. Feedback from focus groups and one-on-one interviews with teachers involved in the initiative has highlighted how important this personal point of contact has been.

The key challenge now will be to ensure that schools continue to engage with the schools programme beyond the life of the initiative. We will ensure that schools continue to have a point of contact at the V&A so that they receive support and are kept up-to-date with our programme. We are also encouraging schools to engage with the V&A independently, for example by organising self-guided visits and attending our annual careers event, Creative Quarter. Schools from the target boroughs have already started attending workshops and events this academic year and we are positive that, thanks to the John Lyon’s Charity Initiative, our relationships with these schools will continue to flourish.

Although the initiative came to an end in August, I have spent the past month offering state-funded primary schools in RBKC the opportunity to take part in free outreach sessions with designer Jasleen Kaur. Using the secondary school initiative as a model, we are using these outreach sessions as a means of connecting with schools that do not currently engage in the V&A workshop programme. 

As part of the ‘Food Factory’ outreach sessions, KS1 and KS2 students have had the opportunity to learn about Jasleen’s work, discover ingenious Victorian inventions in the V&A collections and examine a range of handling objects, including a ‘moustache cup’ and plate warmer. Students have then used found objects and problem solving skills to invent tools for a Victorian-inspired feast. At the end of this smaller initiative approximately 360 students and 24 teachers will have taken part in outreach sessions. It has been fantastic to see that the models used during the secondary school initiative can be applied to other key stages and therefore introduce even more students and teachers to what we can offer at the V&A.

‘I enjoyed being more creative and making tools with more than one use because we have never done that before.’
Year 6 student, Our Lady of Victories Primary School

‘It gave children the opportunity for teamwork and creativity in a relaxed environment. The children were excited to meet a real artist who was passionate about what she did.’
Year 6 Teacher, St Clement and St James CE Primary School, RBKC

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with John Lyon’s Charity, the V&A and all of the teachers and students who have engaged in the initiative. I am sad that the initiative has now come to an end but I am certain that many of the relationships that have been formed will continue to develop for years to come. Thank you for reading our blog and following our progress over the past three years!

To keep up to date with what we are offering schools, please visit our website:



Would you like to comment on this Blog Entry