TG Escapes Blog

Design Competition for Schools in Lockdown

by Mark Brown | Apr 23, 2020 | Blog, Education

TG Escapes, in partnership with HTU and SecEd magazines, would like to offer our support to the unsung heroes of the Covid19 crisis – the teachers who continue to work tirelessly to keep our nation’s students mentally active and educationally engaged, and the parents educating their children at home. We are launching a nationwide competition for pupils to imagine and design the “Outdoor Learning Centre of the Future” including an eco building and outdoor space.

Covering key stages 2, 3 and 4, each school in the UK can make one entry per category to be considered by a panel of judges. The winning design from each age group will be turned into a fully rendered architectural design by TG Escapes’ own architects, Metropolis. They will also receive, together with two runners up, a Tree Planting Pack which will give children and staff alike a great insight into our tree planting initiative. TREEPACK

The entry deadline has been extended to August 7th 2020 and you can download the competition details with terms and conditions here for KS2, and here for KS3 and4.

You should encourage entrants to think about how rapidly our world is changing both in terms of technological innovation and climate change. Their designs should consider how schools can help keep students healthy, happy and connected to nature, while preserving the environment. Using their STEM knowledge, they should consider how to use natural light and energy saving technology to heat (or cool) and power their eco buildings and the space in which their classroom will sit. They should include an outdoor play and/or study area that supports local wildlife and plants and encourages students to get outside to spend time in nature and learn about ecology and sustainable living. Simply complete the entry form in the information pack or download this single page form, and send it, along with your entry, to

Otherwise, their choices are limitless. They can picture themselves in ten, twenty or one hundred years’ time, drawing on contemporary energy harvesting technologies and sustainable materials, or imagining something entirely new and futuristic. Above all else, their design should endeavour to keep tomorrow’s children excited by and engaged with the natural world.

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

We understand that teaching within the restraints of school closures and social isolation must be unimaginably hard, especially as so many teachers are parents yourselves trying to juggle the pressure of working from home and home teaching. Perhaps one positive from the situation is a temporary reprieve from the unrelenting pressure of exam results and league tables and a hard focus on syllabus content, creating opportunities to let your students’ imaginations run wild.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein

In other words, the act of imagining something better, brighter or more beautiful is the seed corn for the conception of things that change the world. While the possibilities are endless, it is sometimes easier to start the process of imagination with a challenge such as this one.

We send you all our best wishes to stay well (and sane!) during lockdown, and beyond, and very much look forward to seeing your students’ designs.

Our Judging Panel

Pete Henshaw has been a journalist for 23 years and has specialised in education since 2006. He launched his own company, Henshaw Media, in 2013 and works as a freelance editor, writer and journalist specialising in education.
He is the editor of both SecEd, a secondary education newspaper and website, and Headteacher Update, the primary school leadership magazine and website. Both titles specialise in spreading best practice information, advice and guidance free of charge to all UK schools, including via the new SecEd Podcast.

Mark Guyatt is a RIBA Chartered Architect with 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Throughout his professional career his designs have been influenced by the natural world to produce energy-efficient ecologically sensitive buildings that connect with nature and inspire those who use them. Mark has been instrumental along with the TG Escapes directors in establishing this bespoke timber frame turn-key contractor whose the ethos sits hand in glove with Metropolis Architecture, Marks architectural practice established 23 years ago. When not working, Mark always has a small construction project on the go and is a keen golfer, sabre fencer and acoustic fingerstyle guitarist.

Helen Frostick has been Headteacher of St. Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School, a National Support School for the National College of School Leadership, in Southwark for fifteen years. She is a National Leader of Education with responsibility for supporting schools in challenging circumstances and has recently been deployed by the City of London as a Headteacher mentor as part of their Leadership Strategy. Helen has over 30 years of teaching experience including overseas in Poland and Washington DC, and she writes for four national publications. She specialises in safeguarding, narrowing the attainment gap, Relationships Education and the Creative Curriculum.

Steven Baker is an award winning Executive Headteacher of two outstanding SEMH schools, author and public speaker. Both of his schools use non-confrontational approaches to behaviour management and in 2018 the Department for Education cited the primary school as an example of best practice in mental health due to their focus on supporting pupil, and staff, well-being. He has held a range of leadership roles, is a former Ofsted inspector and regularly delivers national keynotes on topics including well-being, managing challenging behaviour and leading strategic change. In addition to receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, he was recently presented with an award by Lord Bourne for his ‘outstanding contributions to tackling hatred and building a better society.’

Raymond McGovern has 23 years experience in education senior leadership in a range of educational settings including state and independent Boarding schools and FE College. He is currently a Headteacher is a secondary school in West Wales. He started his teaching career as a lecturer in Computer-Aided Design, Aeronautical Studies, and Mechanical Engineering in an FE college in Isleworth, London moving into secondary education as a Design Technology Teacher. He is a past Chair and Vice-Chair of the BSA (Boarding Schools Association) and the SBSA (State Boarding Schools' Association). Prior to Teaching he served in the Royal Air Force as an aircraft engineer.

Phil Hallman was first appointed as Head in Warrington in 1991 and is currently in Runcorn, where he has served since 1999. I still thoroughly enjoy the job and it’s many different challenges. As far as I am concerned it is possibly the most rewarding job anyone can undertake, to work alongside committed colleagues and parents for the benefit of wonderful children. Having worked through a great deal of different challenges the current situation is one I could never have envisaged but I am certain we will all come through this situation and hopefully we can see a brighter fairer education service in the future as a result.

Matthew Walker is an Art teacher at Brune Park Community school part of the Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust, where he is involved with the Garden Design and Environmental Conservation groups. Previously he was an Environmental Learning Leader at a school in Hedge End. He has made an environmental film, Berrywood Green Heroes, and with an amazing group of students, he has won the RHS Green Plan It competition with a design that included elements of community, wellbeing, accessibility and wildlife in their garden design. He is passionate about sustainability and biodiversity, and is working on student-led projects at Brune Park Community School to develop and enhance the outdoor spaces for students to share time in.

Kerry Bramley lives on the south coast, working in the role of Assistant Head Teacher for the Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust, having previously worked as an Advanced Skills Teacher and Lead Practitioner. She works closely with art, textiles and technology subjects and has a strong passion for hands-on making. Kerry has worked with whole school projects for School Landscape Design, led by student thinking and designing, and with consideration of how environment impacts upon learning and socialising. She has worked on a number of projects with Creative Partnerships where art and design in the outdoors environment have been a feature and has also worked with English Heritage to develop an architectural painting for a listed building ready for its conversion to a museum in Gosport.





About the author

Mark Brown
Consultant at TG Escapes - Mark has spent time growing up with the army, studying computing before the internet existed, and founding The London Classic Theatre Company, self sustaining for over 25 years. He trained in marketing with Unilever before moving into advertising as a strategist with Leo Burnett, Creative Director at Starcom and founder of award winning creative agency Weapon7. He has a passion for eco buildings and helps run the social enterprise Street Wisdom, providing free creative walkshops around the world.

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