Redesigning schools and learning for the future

Schools Design Lab

With Innovation Unit Australia, International

Innovation Unit works with ambitious educators across the globe to redesign schooling and learning. Over the last 10 years, we’ve learned that how schools are designed can make or break innovations in education: new designs for teaching and learning all too often fail without a new school design to go with it.


By 2030

workers will spend less time on routine, manual tasks and more time focusing on people, solving strategic problems and thinking creatively

Equivalent of 35 children every school day

are permanently excluded from schools in England. Many teachers attribute this to disengagement

Around 1 in 5

Australian school students don’t find school engaging, which means they are less likely to learn properly

103 million

youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, more than 60% of which are women

The world as we know it is changing. Big shifts in politics, the economy and technology are shaping our lives in ways that we mostly can’t predict or control. The very nature of work, family and community are beginning to look and feel very different, as are the challenges and opportunities that we face. 

The world has changed, but most schools haven’t.

At Innovation Unit we believe the thriving societies of tomorrow need thriving young people today: children and young adults who want and are able to positively shape the world around them. But we have to accept that our current school model isn’t working – for young people themselves or for society as a whole. Because not all young people get the same chances to succeed and most are not being well prepared for a future that is uncertain.

“Schools need to be reinvented as a key part of learning eco-systems; webs of civil society institutions powerful enough to enable humanity to address the problems which both threaten it and offer spectacular opportunities. Schools in diverse settings and conditions are already innovating their foci and their methods to help their learners - not just pass tests, or even get a job - but to thrive.” Valerie Hannon, Board Director, Innovation Unit


There are once in a generation opportunities to open new schools in education systems across the globe:

  • Academies and free schools in the UK;
  • New school builds in Australia;
  • Schools of the Future in the Middle East; and
  • Innovative, low-cost private schools in the Global South.


We’ve pulled together a wealth of experience and insight from across the world to inform our approach to school design. School Design Lab brings a practical, holistic approach, which is backed up by:

  • Rigorous research into learning outcomes and education technology
  • A bank of global exemplars of extraordinary schooling and learning
  • An in-depth dataset of design principles and features of extraordinary schools
  • Design, learning and change expertise
  • Global relationships with innovative education institutions.

Through School Design Lab we offer:

  1. The School Design Institute – enabling ambitious educators to build the capability of schools to reinvent themselves over and over again.
  2. The New School Design Studio – supporting system leaders and educators to design and build new schools that are future-focused, outcomes-led, and tech-enabled.
  3. Redesigning School Collaborative – building a global alliance of extraordinary schools, committed to extraordinary learning.



Qatar Foundation

Designing a school of the future in Qatar.

Aga Khan Education Services

Developing a new outcomes charter and education technology strategy with Aga Khan Education Services.

Rising Academies

Designing the pedagogy, curriculum and education technology strategies for the Rising Academies Network of low-cost private schools in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

NYC iZone

Designing new school models within a system focused on personalised learning.

  • Rising Academy Network - Sierra Leone
  • School 21, London
  • NYC iZone, New York City


School Design Lab hosts a 4-day School Design Institute which offers a personalised sprint for schools, enabling School Design Teams to build their capabilities to gather user and organisational insights; rigorously design and test new approaches to schooling and learning; and grow and spread innovative, high-impact practice.


If you’re an ambitious educator or system leader interested in the practical redesign of learning or new models of school, we’d love to hear from you.


Martin James (Australasia, Asia, Middle East)

Tom Beresford (Europe, Americas, Africa)

Read more about our School Design Lab here.