Announcing our V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge 2022 – 23 winners!

Learning & National Programmes
March 28, 2023

On Tuesday 21 March we hosted our 2022 – 23 V&A Innovate Pitching and Awards Day. It was an inspiring and unforgettable day.

V&A Innovate is our national design challenge for Years 7, 8 and 9. The top 50 students from 10 design teams travelled from across the country to the V&A South Kensington, where they took part in creative workshops with designers, saw their work on display, and stood up in front of a full auditorium to showcase their brilliant design ideas to a panel of industry judges:

Seetal Solanki: Founder and Director of Ma-tt-er, materials translator
Selasi Setufe: Architect and co-director of Black Females in Architecture (BFA)
Michael Omotosho: Industrial designer and founder of Plugull
Helen Charman: Director of Learning, National Programmes and Young V&A

“It has been an honour for me to evaluate and provide feedback on the impressive work of the hardworking and deserving kids. This has instilled hope in me for the future, and it is important that we encourage and nurture opportunities for the next generation. V&A Innovate has been an incredibly moving and unforgettable experience for me.”  
Michael Omotosho

Students taking part in a ceramics workshop led by V&A ceramic artist in residence Florence Dwyer

Students seeing their design ideas on display in the Learning Centre
Students watching a demo by Nick Hooton from Notpla

The students’ design projects responded to three themes inspired by our Design: 1900 – Now galleries: Adapt, Care, Disrupt. The creativity, thorough and thoughtful research, empathetic consideration of people and planet, and passion shown in their designs and presentations was inspiring and moving to watch.  

2,675 students took part and 271 teams entered ideas. From all entries received, Outwood Academy Haydock have become our fourth-ever overall winners. Their ‘Care and Connect Companion’ design is a device to support young people with their mental health, helping to bridge the gaps in the support available at school.

“We’re absolutely over the moon. I think they’re definitely going to be proud as punch going into school tomorrow!”
Rebecca Critchley, Teacher, Outwood Academy Haydock

Overall winners, Outwood Academy Haydock with their teachers and the V&A Innovate judges

Overall winners, Outwood Academy Haydock pitching their design

Care and Connect Companion by Outwood Academy Haydock

The winning entry for the Adapt category was The Charter School North Dulwich for their idea to create more inclusive and accessible arcade games.

The Charter School North Dulwich team with Michael Omotosho

The winning entry for the Care category was Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for their multisensory, textured ‘fidget’ gloves for school students.

The Queen Elizabeth Grammar School team with Helen Charman

The Charter School North Dulwich team pitching their idea

The Queen Elizabeth Grammar School team pitching their idea

The winning entry for the Disrupt category was Camden School for Girls for their idea ‘On Pointe’, a proposal to make more inclusive, affordable and sustainable ballet shoes, helping to widen access to the dance form.

The Camden School for Girls team with Seetal Solanki
The Camden School for Girls team pitching their idea

The Best Pitch award went to Thomas Gainsborough School for their informative, challenging and immersive pitch for ‘See It Like Me’, their proposal to create a training programme to educate teachers about neurodiversity.

The Thomas Gainsborough School team with Helen Charman

The Thomas Gainsborough School team pitching their idea

The Student Choice award went to The Tiffin Girls School for ‘FuturePlay’, their idea to create more inclusive superhero and villain dolls, disrupting the status quo within the toy industry.

The Tiffin Girls’ School team with Tristram Hunt

The Tiffin Girls’ School team pitching their idea

All the teams did exceptionally well, and it was a really tough decision for our judges to select only a handful of winners. Congratulations to all other finalists, who all went home with a V&A Innovate student trophy:

Team ‘Shining Sensory Stars’ from The Warwickshire Academy with their idea to redesign sensory games to encourage school students to play together.

Houlton School with their design ‘My Card’, a remote control to help people with autism or with social anxiety to ask their teacher for help in class.

The Houlton School team with their ‘My Card’ design

The Houlton School team pitching their idea

Sandbach High School and Sixth Form College with their design ‘See Fashion’, QR codes for clothing that read out colour, pattern, and care instructions for blind and partially sighted people.

The Sandbach High School & Sixth Form College team with Learning Producer, V&A, Holly Burton

The Sandbach High School & Sixth Form College team pitching their idea

Skegness Grammar School with their design ‘Wild Paint’, an eco-friendly spray paint made from natural ingredients to help make graffiti and street art more environmentally friendly.

The Skegness Grammar School team pitching their idea

The Skegness Grammar School team with Learning Producer, V&A, Holly Burton

All of the finalist teams’ ideas are on display in our Learning Centre in South Kensington until the end of May 2023.


The annual V&A Innovate Teacher Awards are a chance for us to celebrate teachers who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to supporting and inspiring their students in design and creative education through the National Schools Challenge. Our winners this year are:

ECT of the Year Award: Rebecca Critchley from Outwood Academy Haydock

Rebecca Critchley with Learning Producer, V&A, Holly Burton

“I feel incredibly privileged to work in an exceptionally supportive department and recognise how blessed I am with the opportunity to support such bright and creative young people. To consider how their design skills can be a force for change – I can’t think of any better reward than that.”
Rebecca Critchley

Teacher of the Year: Rose Russell from Ursuline Academy Ilford

Rose Russell with judges Michael Omotosho, Seetal Solanki and Helen Charman

“I love competitions. For me, it raises standards and so not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be named as a Teacher of the Year!  Doing something I really enjoy but also supporting and exciting students about the endless possibilities about a career in the creative industries.  Because as I start preparing for my retirement at the end of this academic year (July) to receive this award is a very special one for me after all these years.”
Rose Russell

Congratulations to all students and teachers who took part this year!


We will be announcing the themes for next year’s National Schools Challenge in May. Sign up to our newsletter, find out more about how to take part and explore our resources on our Innovate page at

V&A Innovate is generously supported by the Art Explora – Académie des beaux-arts European Award and The John S Cohen Foundation.

0 comments so far, view or add yours

Add a comment

Please read our privacy policy to understand what we do with your data.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Find inspiration in our incredible range of exclusive gifts, jewellery, books, fashion, prints & posters and much more...

Find out more