Cities of Learning: London Boroughs Competition

Identifying three ‘boroughs of learning’ through the RSA’s flagship place-based programme

Using the design principles of Leadership, Networks and Platform, the London Borough Competition championed the most compelling prototypes for connecting young people into learning and work opportunities in the cultural and creative industries.

Our creative and cultural industries are an invaluable asset to our economy and society, with impacts filtering through to better health and wellbeing for all. For the next generation, the future of our economy will be built on creativity and technology. Whilst employment across the sector rises, significant skills challenges, acute concerns about diversity, access, and opportunities to progress, remain.

Through the Cities of Learning Design Competition, the RSA, Digitalme and A New Direction worked with boroughs and borough partnerships across London to develop designs for a ‘borough of learning’ - linking learning through the arts into broader skills, work and wellbeing opportunities.

By bringing together arts organisations, education and training providers, leading creative and cultural industries, and young people themselves, boroughs were supported to use the Cities of Learning design model (Leadership, Networks, and Platform) to develop new approaches to learning and skills progression, by connecting learning in different contexts via a system of digital open badges.

Open badges are becoming a new 'currency' for learning, recognising and communicating the knowledge and skills gained through participation in different activities (online and offline). Through the Cities of Learning platform, opportunities for learning are made visible and connected into valuable new pathways for learners to enable them to progress into learning employment in the creative industries, and beyond.

Through this approach, we aimed to:

  • Improve access and participation in creative and cultural learning opportunities and professions for all young people
  • Improve connectivity and progression through creative and cultural learning into work opportunities, and other forms of education provision, to reduce skills gaps and improve diversity and talent pipelines
  • Achieve a step-change in the impact of learning provision and outcomes for young people, by injecting digital innovation into how powerful and valued progression pathways can be designed using digital badges, improving agency and ownership of learning
  • Improve the evidence base around the impact of participation in arts and cultural activities on wellbeing and mental health, reduced isolation, and increased civic engagement and community activism

Find out more

Cities Of Learning Challenge London blog

Challenge London investment from A New Direction: £150,125 over one year

Contact: Olivia Finn, RSA -