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Catalyst Schools

A Design Thinking Programme for Post-Primary Schools

About Catalyst Schools

What would it take to create a culture of innovation and deeper learning in your school? How might we transform school culture to better prepare all students for post-secondary education, career, and civic life?

Catalyst is pleased to offer a professional learning fellowship for Northern Ireland school leaders. Based on the tools of School Retool (a programme of the Stanford d.school and IDEO) and customised for Northern Ireland school leaders, the fellowship is an opportunity to develop your hacking and equity mindsets and apply a design thinking-based approach to your leadership as you meet and work with other like-minded school leaders.

We are looking for teams of two (a principal and vice principal or other member of the leadership team) from secondary and grammar schools to join us on a learning journey. This fellowship is for you if you are:

– A school leader at a post-primary school in Northern Ireland looking for new ways to get started making change in your school.

– Eager to collaborate and learn with other school leaders in a highly interactive adult learning experience.

– Seeking to ensure that students furthest from opportunity are served by your school.

– Looking for ways strengthen your school’s connection to local industry.

– Ready to explore how a design-thinking based approach could inform your practice.

– Willing to give feedback to make this an even better learning experience for other NI leaders.

The Details

As a Catalyst Schools cohort member, you will engage in:

– 3 full-day workshops at Catalyst, or another location

· Cohort 1: Oct 21, Nov 18, Dec 2

· Cohort 2: Nov 4, Nov 25, Dec 9

– 1 full-day to shadow a student in your school between Workshop 1 and  Workshop 2

– Approximately 1-2 hours per week implementing what you’re learning in your school

– Activities to promote engagement and meaningful connections between schools and local businesses

Catalyst Schools 2021-22 Cohort

The participant experience for this programme included resources from the Co-Designing Schools Tool Kit and School Retool, which are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Catalyst Schools Webinar

Watch the Catalyst Schools Webinar with our programme facilitators Peter Worth and Patricia Flanagan as they explain what Catalyst Schools is and what it means for school leaders and pupils in a post primary learning environment.

Thank you for your interest in Catalyst Schools. Applications are currently closed.

Register your details below and we will be in touch once applications reopen.

I can't recommend the programme enough...It takes you out of your comfort zone, analyses your school and your performance and from a school leaders point of view I couldn't recommend it enough.

Declan Murray - Principal, St Joesph's Boys high School, Newry

Watch Declan's Full Testimonial

Declan Murray is the Principal of St Joseph’s Boys High School, Newry and is a previous participant of the Catalyst Schools Programme. Learn from his insights and the key takeaways he got from attending the programme.

Catalyst Schools

Info Sheet

Find our more about the programme and our programme facilitators


Peter Worth

Catalyst Schools Lead

Peter Worth is an educator and learning designer working at the intersection of design thinking, leadership, professional learning, and school culture change. As a member of the design team and former co-director of the School Retool professional learning fellowship—a project of the Stanford d.school’s K12 Lab and IDEO—he helped school leaders apply their hacking mindset to build toward an equitable school culture of deeper learning, preparing all students for post-secondary education, career, and civic life.

Now based in Northern Ireland, Peter consults locally and globally, working with and coaching clients in business, university, and schools, including leading Catalyst’s two school leaders’ fellowships in Belfast and the Northwest.

A career educator, Peter has been director of learning design and senior instructional designer for a professional learning edtech company, a senior research associate with an educational research organization, and a public school teacher in Los Angeles County. Peter holds a Master’s degree in education (Learning, Design, & Technology) from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s degree in theater arts from UC Santa Cruz.

Patricia Flanagan

Catalyst Schools Lead

Patricia’s core passion is for how Design Thinking and Creative Problem solving can be used inclusively across society. This passion was sparked by a study visit to the d-school, Stanford California over 10 years ago.

Since then Patricia has been focused on developing creative problem solving approaches to stimulate innovation with client companies and in education, where she introduce students from primary school through to PhD to the skills, tools and techniques which will help them to thrive as innovative thinkers in a complex, globalised world.

As a specialist facilitator Patricia has designed and delivered a wide range of design thinking programmes and workshops for strategy setting, team building, uncovering insights, innovation in the private and third sector and strengthening social enterprises.

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