Tollbar Academy

This week we’ve delivered a 3 hour Design & Enterprise Masterclass to 6th Form students at Tollbar Academy in Lincolnshire.

The aim of the masterclass was to get students thinking creatively, whilst showing how general employability skills can link to the design process, no matter which career path you choose. 

Most students in the session came from an art and design background, but some were not studying creative subjects. This was an ideal opportunity for us to show how design and technology is relevant to all career paths, and to engage those students who ordinarily wouldn't class themselves as ‘creative’ with a design led task.


Students started by listing Functional Skills, Vocational Skills, and Communication Skills needed in any job.

Students then showed us their existing knowledge of the Design Process by listing how they would tackle a college project from brief, through to final outcome.  

We compared the students ideas of the design process with the processes that we use daily as professional designers. It was encouraging for students, staff, and us(!) to see how they mirrored each other, and to see how the design methods followed in the classroom are relevant to working life.

Yeah, but how much do you CHARGE?

The final task before getting down to some design work, was to ask students to think about how much they would charge for any creative work they do.

This was the first time many students had considered how to give their work, their time, and their creative abilities a value. Their answers varied from £8 an hour, through to an aspirational £45 an hour. This sparked an interesting debate around how important it is to give your work a value, and how a clients perception of how good you are might be influenced by how much you charge them.

Getting Creative

With the theory and discussions out the way, it was time to start on a design task.
We set students our Creative Thinking task, to come up with concepts for something the world needs, but which doesn’t exist yet. This could be products, apps, services, furniture, clothing...anything!

After some brainstorming of initial ideas, students were soon coming up with their own concepts, and pitched them to each other.  

Some of the ideas included:

All Weather headwear
Painless high heels
Hats which filter water or snow with juice for refreshment on the move
Swiss army style pens
Magnetic Glasses to find your keys (!)

...and many other things besides

It was great for students to see how they can come up with quick concepts, pitch their ideas, and gain feedback, in a really short space of time.

Students also took full advantage of having 2 professional designers on hand, and we answered their questions about how to get in to industry, improve their portfolios, and what it’s like working as a self-employed designer.

Students left inspired...and so did we. 
We had a fantastic day, so thank you to Tollbar Academy for having us, and we hope to see you again.