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The way in which we shape our physical environment must be taught as early as possible in schools if we are to get across how critical the role of the built environment is to our health and wellbeing – socially, economically, environmentally and culturally. It includes everything from aesthetics and sustainability to “your home, your street, your neighbourhood, your town” where the smallest part, your home and your street, collectively make an enormous contribution to the future of our planet. Architecture, the built environment and an understanding of “place” should be taught through many different subjects including art and design, geography, history and STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) rather than as a subject in its own right. The aim is for young people to develop the widest creativity and problem-solving skills, which are essential for the creative industries, and to develop an understanding of what the built environment professions do.
Built environment professionals could facilitate and enable young citizens (including Young Mayors, local youth councils and the UK Youth Parliament) to hold PLACE Reviews of their local environment or school building as outlined in the “Design Quality” section.
PLACE institutions could establish a National Schools Architecture Competition for secondary-school students, in collaboration with the Department for Education, to showcase their creative and problem-solving skills, with awards presented by leading architects. This could be built into or connected to the Eco Schools Programme.
PLACE institutions should make incentives like accreditation and Continuing Professional Development credits (CPD) available for professionals volunteering and mentoring in schools. The RIBA should encourage architects and students to work on education programmes by promoting the fact that CPD credits are already available.