General Public Agency
The School Looks Around

The idea for The School Looks Around originated from our rediscovery of the 1948 book, which promoted the idea of the local survey as an adventurous and open-ended process, a “voyage of discovery into the life, history and organisation of the locality”. “The local survey can help to bring the individual into sympathy with his/her surroundings, not passively, but as an active unit”. The book is amazingly contemporary in its holistic consideration of the environment and in empowering young people to protect and influence their environment.

The aim of the original surveys was to make the local area and issues of society and citizenship come alive for children, whilst establishing new and lasting connections between schools and their communities.

The School Looks Around is a one-year programme of environmental surveys carried out by young people and directed towards capturing the realities of contemporary urban and rural life in Britain. The programme will run over one year in four different secondary schools – two in an urban context and two in a rural context – with the aim of developing a national model. It will be galvanised by significant new partnerships between the schools, cultural institutions and library services. The findings of the action-research will form a usable archive resource, to be housed either within the school or within a local history archive.

The first stage is being delivered in partnership with the Whitechapel Gallery and Devon Libraries and Archive Service. This project is supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and others.

DATE: June 2009 - ongoing
IMAGE: Book cover The School Looks Around
Cover of 'The School Looks Around'