Sandy Hope is just coming to the end of two amazing years as V&A Dundee’s first schools development officer and has experienced everything from touring exhibitions to a large-scale design jam.
Sandy, an art and design teacher at Craigie High School in Dundee, was seconded to V&A Dundee to inspire secondary pupils across Dundee with design.
“I found it really exciting to think that a museum of design for Scotland would be opening in Dundee,” says Sandy, who still also works an an artist when he finds time.
“I also knew from my experience that the mission of the original V&A would be a really great fit for Dundee. People here have always imagined a better place built on jobs in the manufacturing sector. I think that V&A Dundee will make our city a centre for new ideas of what people can make and sell and imagine,” he continues.
“My secondment has also made me feel much more optimistic about a new and emerging Dundee. As the creative sector in the city begins to expand, exciting new opportunities will emerge for the pupils I will be responsible for teaching.
“I also think that young people here are up for the challenging and rewarding opportunities of how V&A Dundee will change the city.
“I have enjoyed the positive approach that everyone has shown to the project as well as having the time to collaborate and create really interesting learning experiences that have promoted design and the value of studying this subject,” he reflects. “My secondment has given me a greater depth of knowledge about Scotland’s design heritage and the contemporary possibilities of design in Scotland.
“It’s also been great working with my colleagues who are working hard to make V&A Dundee a success for the city.”
Pretty early on Sandy discovered that working in a museum was very different to working in a school and at first he had to work hard to adapt his skillset to the tasks that a small group of people were being asked to do.
“The V&A Dundee team were always supportive and totally open to creative input,” he says. “They aim to provide innovative, positive educational experiences and want to work with teachers in all sectors to do this.”
One of the most exciting projects Sandy has worked on was the Schools Design Challenge, which involved every secondary school in Dundee and Angus, with more than 1,000 pupils in more than 250 teams designing ways to improve their schools.
Working on that and other projects has given me an improved knowledge of Scottish design,” says Sandy. “Scots have invented, imagined, made and sold a fantastic amount of amazing things and I’m excited to say that V&A Dundee will be able tell this story of Scottish design.
“I have also had time to see the relevance of what I teach to the real world. If there are no designers making new ideas for products and services there will be no new jobs. Working with the V&A Dundee team and a wide range of designers has given me some great ideas for teaching design,” he continues.
“Above all, I have gained a belief that we can, and should, focus on training creativity in our young people’s learning. Creativity is not innate, it is a way of perceiving a variety of solutions to a problem and will be an essential characteristic of any modern workplace.”
When Sandy goes back to Craigie High after the summer holidays, he’s looking forward to teaching in a new and refreshed way. #
“Hopefully getting out of my personal comfort zone will give me plenty of good experiences to take back to the classroom,” he smiles.
The V&A Dundee is recruiting for a primary school teacher to work with them on the development of their primary schools programme. Sandy’s advice for anyone thinking of applying for the position (applications close on Friday) is: “Enjoy the experience and remember you’re still working in the early exciting stages of a project that will be important not just for Dundee but for Scotland as a whole.
“When something is new anything is possible and you’ll have the space to put your stamp on the project.
“I think this is a good time to be young and to live in Dundee. This is a place that can renew itself through its creative ideas and belief in the future.”
Joanna Mawdsley, V&A’s learning manager, has enjoyed working with Sandy: “He has been a key member of the team and we’ve been very lucky to benefit from his experience as a skilled teacher of art and design. He is someone who shares our team’s passion that anyone can get involved in design – and that design can help change lives for the better.”