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Susan Harris placement at Foster + Partners

 (BIM)This case study explores the experience of D&T teacher Susan Harris who participated in the Teachers in Residence placement at Foster + Partners, a prominent architectural firm. Susan is an experienced teacher at London Oratory College, a Catholic secondary school catering to boys aged 7–18 and girls aged 16–18 in West Brompton.

The placement aimed to bridge the gap between the education sector and the design and architecture industry, providing educators with valuable insights and knowledge to enrich their teaching practices. The teacher’s journey during the four-day placement highlights the diverse dimensions of architecture, the potential career paths for students, and the importance of industry-education collaborations.


Susan originally specialised in art but volunteered to switch to design and technology teaching ten years ago which is a move she is glad to have made. With a passion for creativity and the desire to provide the best opportunities for her students, she sought opportunities to enhance her understanding of architecture and its related fields. Her search led her to the Teachers in Residence Placement, a unique collaboration between Foster + Partners and the Design and Technology Association.

The Placement Experience

The four-day placement at Foster and Partners exceeded her expectations. She was impressed by the vast range of architectural disciplines that the firm encompasses. Through hands-on experiences, presentations, and guided tours, she gained valuable insights into the world of architecture, which she planned to share with her students.

Highlights of the Placement

Susan found the modelling and fabrication process particularly fascinating. The collaborative approach and use of advanced tools and equipment left a lasting impression. She was intrigued by the incorporation of technologies like Revit (BIM) and Fusion 360 and is looking into potentially integrating them into her D&T curriculum to expose students to modern design practices and software.

Discovery and Cross-Curricular Learning

The placement highlighted the importance of cross-curricular learning and the potential for students with diverse interests to explore architecture-related careers. Susan recognised that architecture not only requires technical skills but also integrates aspects of engineering, landscaping, and software development. This realisation sparked her interest in promoting cross-disciplinary projects for her students.

Career Pathways and Follow-Up Opportunities

The experiences during the placement expanded her perspective on potential career paths for her students. She saw the relevance of architecture-related courses, such as apprenticeships, and realised the significance of guiding students towards suitable opportunities within the architecture and design industry.

Future Collaborations and Engagements

She discussed the potential for project-based competitions, workshops, and a possible visit to the model shop, all designed to inspire and motivate her students.

The Teachers in Residence Placement proved to be an eye-opening and transformative experience for Susan. It not only enhanced her understanding of architecture and its diverse dimensions but also solidified her commitment to fostering cross-curricular learning and promoting industry-education collaborations. The placement enriched her teaching practices, inspiring her to provide her students with exciting opportunities and empowering them to pursue careers in the architectural and design fields.