Wednesday 30 November 2016


A partnership between the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, and award-winning animation studio Aardman has won gold in the prestigious Society of British and International Design (SBID) awards in the Intelligent Design category. ‘Learning Time with Shaun & Timmy’ pop-up learning centres, designed for  children aged two to six years around the world to learn English with the help of Shaun the Sheep and Timmy, triumphed over other nominees in the category including Edinburgh City Council and a number of renowned design studios.

The British Council has been teaching English for over 75 years, and is trusted by parents all over the world. In 2015 they teamed-up with Oscar®-award winning Aardman to bring English teaching to life for 2-6 year olds through the much loved characters and stories from Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time. The partnership started with the launch of face-to-face courses taught at Learning Time with Shaun & Timmy centres, designed with 2-6 year old children in mind; each centre has four bright and vibrant classrooms, bespoke furniture and unique features to transport children into the world of Shaun the Sheep, Timmy and friends. Full centres are up and running in Singapore, Chile and México.

This first phase of the programme was successful; however one of the main challenges was the time and investment required to establish each new centre. The British Council decided to adapt the design of the bespoke Learning Time with Shaun and Timmy learning centres and to produce a low cost ‘pop-up’ version that can be easily installed in kindergartens, schools, teaching establishments and even shopping centres and libraries. The vision was to offer the same inspiring courses and immersive experience as the full centres, but in a flexible format which could be easily transported and used in multi-purpose spaces.

It was important to be able to manage quality across wide geographical regions and capabilities, so the British Council decided to build flat-pack versions of the pop-up that can be shipped to locations around the world for quick and easy installation.

This new flexible approach to offering English courses enables the British Council to give thousands more children around the world a positive first experience of English, in locations which are convenient for their families. Pop-up learning centres have been launched so far in schools and British Council teaching centres in Mexico, Egypt and Spain, with more to open in 2017 in Bahrain, Morocco, UAE, Ukraine and many more countries.

The British Council and Aardman partnership is born out of a shared vision to bring together the best of UK creativity and English language expertise to engage and educate young minds around the world. The teaching methodology at the heart of Learning Time with Shaun & Timmy is inspired by the UK’s world-leading Early Years Foundation Stage and is taught by the British Council’s teaching experts.

The British Council and Aardman are building on their innovative approach and developing more new products in 2017 to enable greater numbers of young children around the world to learn English in a fun and inspiring way.

Anna Searle, Director of English at the British Council said:

“We are delighted to have received the Intelligent Design Award for our Learning Time with Shaun & Timmy pop-up English learning centres, which are designed to appeal to very young learners. These flexible installations enable us to reach learners through English language teaching in many more locations around the world, offering thousands of children a unique and memorable learning experience based on the fun and creativity of Aardman’s characters and the British Council’s English language teaching expertise.”

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity, influence and security for the UK and globally. 

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Aardman, based in Bristol (UK) co-founded and run by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, is a world leader in animation. It produces feature films, series, advertising and digital entertainment for both the domestic and international market. Their multi-award winning productions are novel, entertaining, brilliantly characterised and full of charm that reflects the unique talent, energy and personal commitment of the very special people who make up the Aardman team. The studio’s work is often imitated and yet the company continues to lead the field producing a rare brand of visually stunning and amusing independent and commercial productions