The New Schools

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Architects: Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew ◦ Theme Convener: B. W. Rowe, o.b.e., m.c.
Display Designers: Neville Conder and Patience Clifford

The “New Schools” Pavilion displays the kind of tools and the sort of environment that are now being devised for the schoolboy and schoolgirl, if they are to get the best out of contemporary education.

There is no room on the South Bank to project a picture that would do justice to the past history and present scope of the entire British educational system. But an introductory mural in the “New Schools” Pavilion sketches the contributions made by former generations. It was Britain that was chiefly responsible for spreading to other continents that great Mediterranean culture which, for five hundred years or more, has been civilising the world. British churches and monasteries fostered this work; British universities extended and expanded it.

With the Education Act of 1944, which empowered local education authorities to provide a full and efficient education for every child in the country between the ages of five and fifteen, new standards were set for the equipment and environment of education. This new system embraces everyone, but it gives to everyone a fair freedom of choice. The process begins with the Nursery School: so does the designer’s set of problems. His first job is to devise a classroom setting in which children between the ages of three and five will find it agreeably easy to learn to become members of their class, and to feel, however dimly, some responsibility to their fellows.

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As soon as the five year old goes to a Primary School he starts to master the general tools of learning. Now he needs fresh equipment in the way of desks and chairs and libraries; and it is time for the whole paraphernalia that will enable him to take part in physical education, and art, and drama to be placed at his disposal.

When, at the age of eleven or more, the schoolchild passes on to his Secondary School, he may choose to start specialising and his speciality will demand more new equipment, such as laboratories, crafts-rooms and workshops.

Thus, each new phase needs new tools and a fresh background. The “New Schools” Pavilion ends up with a fully furnished classroom, in which there is displayed a “Project”: that is to say, a co-operative exercise in which all members of a class or group of classes take part. First, the children are given a subject to investigate, a subject on their own. They go out into their town or their countryside and seek to uncover all the facts they need. Then they come back to the classroom, analyse the facts, shape their conclusions, and present them in the form, not only of essays, but of charts and models.

In this way, a “Project” easily enlists a childly natural curiosity; it stimulates him into trying out in practice all the skills that he has learned – and it impels him to pool his surmises and discoveries with those of his fellows. In fact, the “Project” is a fair sample of the trend of modern education in Britain to-day.

Design Review

Display Designers: Neville Conder and Patience Clifford

Design Review presents to the British people and to their overseas visitors an illustrated record of contemporary achievement in British industry. It shows the high standard of design and craftsmanship that has been reached in a wide range of British products of to-day.

The actual examples displayed in the various Festival Exhibitions have had to be limited for reasons of space, and because not all of Britain’s products could fit into the particular stories that are told there. So, Design Review provides an opportunity for showing a wider and more up-to-date range of British industrial products than would otherwise be possible. It also contains an information service to answer queries on the products listed as well as exhibits shown in the Exhibitions, and a comprehensive display of trade and technical periodicals.

Design Review had its origin in the “Stock List” opened by the Council of Industrial Design in April 1948, as a pictorial index of contemporary British design, from which exhibits could be selected for display in the Festival Exhibitions. Manufacturers were asked to submit photographs, leaflets, or flat samples of their best products, and those reaching the required standard were accepted for the Stock List. The standard is not merely one of appearance or finish, but also of workmanship, technical efficiency, fitness for purpose and economy of production.

This Stock List has now become a reference work of value. It is always being revised and, as items will be added to it during the period of the Festival itself, Design Review displays will be the most up-to-date record in existence of British achievement in industrial design.

On the South Bank, Design Review is located in seven arches under the Waterloo Bridge approach. Each arch deals with a related group of industries.