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  • Writer's pictureGina McCabe

One brilliant idea brought to life.

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

How Pi made an ambitious new school design concept a reality.

I can't be the only one who can recall an animated conversation with a friend, family member or work colleague where you've hatched a plan for something brilliant only to be overwhelmed by your own innovation and creativity, suddenly seeing more barriers and hurdles than can possibly be overcome, and so the spark of excitement and enthusiasm fades and life goes back to the way it was. I am reminded of the sketch my son and I did recently for a fantastical bagel buttering machine..... one day son, one day.

But this article is not, you might be pleased to know, about bagel buttering contraptions (although I still maintain there is a market). It's about a chance conversation, a spark of an idea, and how Place Innovation, supported by an incredible team of education, innovation and wellbeing specialists, began the journey of making a concept a reality.

Our Brief: Design a school where children are supported to recognise and explore the innate nature of their own resilience, wellbeing and ability to think with clarity in any given circumstance.

This was not an academic brief. It was a brief borne out of passion and a belief that education could and should do more to support children to understand themselves and others; not as an intervention in response to behavioural issues or mental health concerns, but as a core part of the culture of school life.

That was it. No criteria about who it was for, where it should be, and what funding structure it might follow. Everything was a possibility and as an organisation we thrived on the freedom to create and innovate without bounds drawing on our extensive education knowledge and experience. Fast forward 12 months and the beautiful result is an entirely independent multi academy trust creating not just one school, but multiple schools that re-imagine where and how learning happens, and that have the purpose of enabling children to thrive in a rapidly changing world. You can find out more at

Of course the school project continues and will for many years. Over time our role will change. Until now it has been defined by academic research, vision development, school design, partnership working, bid planning and writing, and of course the bringing together of just the right mix of people to lead the Trust forward. Next is the project delivery of the first school - a complex operational task which we have the perfect mix of expertise for. And so as we move towards a place that at time seemed an impossible target - crossing the i's and dotting the t's of a near 150 page free school bid application form - we are reminded of why we founded Place Innovation in the first place. To be the organisation that gives life to that impossible project and in the process to bring about real and sustainable social impact.

Ready to make a change? We would love to help. Contact Us.


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