IT is a classroom without teachers where pupils are free to indulge their creativity as they tackle real-world problems in innovative ways.

And educators at one Glasgow school believe that it could be best way to prepare children for the future where problem-solving and out-the-box thinking will trump rote learning and the ability to memorize facts for exams.

Kelvinside Academy have opened the UK's first 'innovation school' for pupils based on a teaching model developed through a partnership with the NuVu company, set up graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) nine years ago.

The new school, which opened its doors yesterday, is designed to face up to the challenge of a fast-moving jobs market and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

Instead of book-based learning, pupils engage in hands-on problem solving, working on collaborative projects to develop creative solutions on themes such as environmental problems and overcrowding.

And they work with cutting-edge tools such as 3D modelling software, 3D printers and laser cutters to build their designs under the watchful eyes of experts, working at their own pace and to their own timetable.


Rather than being graded by an exam, pupils present their finished project to guest experts including professors, entrepreneurs and designers for constructive feedback.

Partnerships are already in place with a number of companies, including infrastructure group Balfour Beatty, which built and constructed the specially designed £2.5m innovation school at the Academy.

Proponents of the method utilised by Nuvu say it demonstrates an example of what a new national curriculum around digital skills and future learning could look like.

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It also could provide a solution to teacher shortages as pupils are given more time to work on their own with industry and academic experts acting as mentors to help them find their way through the process.

NuVu first launched in the UK with the private Kelvinside Academy summer schools in 2017 and 2018, and the model is fully embedded within the curriculum.

Already, more than 50 senior pupils have selected NuVu as a subject option from S3 through S6 as an alternative to a traditional Nat 5 or Higher course.

Pupils take the course alongside traditional subjects such as maths, French and English, working in the NuVu lab when not at their lessons. 

Students are presented with real-world challenges and learn to solve them in a variety of ways, including scripting and producing a documentary, designing and creating a robot to solve a problem, or building a bench where humans and animals can coexist in the same space.

The project portfolios can include art, media, writing, film making, robotics, engineering and sensory experience.

NuVu Innovation School Director, David Miller, believes the Innovation School will become a beacon for what schools of the future could look like. 

He said: "The education system hasn’t changed in more than 40 years, but the world has. I believe the new Innovation School will resolve a huge tension in education; everyone knows the model has to change but until now, there’s been no viable alternative.

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"We believe this powerful learning model could and should become mainstream and we hope the Innovation School will serve as a case study for government and policy makers of what can be achieved."


  He added: "This is just the beginning, but the momentum is with us. The current system intensifies the idea that people leave school as a success or a failure, and for some, it can take many years to recover from this binary view of the world.

"Our model encourages a growth mindset. There are always ways to improve. There’s no specific target or outcome; the NuVu model empowers children and frees them from the depressing constraints of assessment.

“The design, technical and meta-skills being developed and enhanced in the Innovation School – together with an agile mindset – are exactly what a range of Scottish businesses and academics are telling us they need.”

Dan Wyatt, Rector at Kelvinside Academy said: “I am amazed at the excitement NuVu is stirring up within Kelvinside every day.  When you walk through the School during lunch or after school, you will see groups of pupils using their own time to work on their projects, it is incredibly inspiring and rewarding for a school leader to see.

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“At Kelvinside, we have a vision to change the way education in this country is delivered. We are pioneering a new way of learning which champions creativity, encourages collaboration and embraces challenge and failing as part of the learning process.

"We are already in conversation with other education bodies and local councils to take our innovation model far beyond our school gates.”