Coventry’s Coundon Court School Wins Inaugural V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge

March 11, 2020

Monday 2 March saw the joyful culmination of the inaugural year of V&A Innovate, our new national design programme for young people age 11 to 14 and their brilliant teachers. The top 50 pupils travelled here from across the country to muster their courage and stand up in front of a full auditorium to showcase their proposals to a panel of leading industry judges, including Masterchef judge Monica Galetti, fashion designer Phoebe English, and Brompton Bike’s COO Paul Williams.

Judge Monica Galetti providing feedback to students during the pitches, and on the right, the trophies taken home by winning teams

Winning teams went away with trophies for their school and the overall winners will have the chance to take part in a workshop at the Museum and visit the Brompton Bicycle factory. From over 3,000 students that took part, Coundon Court secondary school in Coventry became our first-ever winners for their proposal to design a new community centre with a public allotment and cookery school for their local area.

This competition has inspired my pupils to design with a focus on sustainability and come up with creative solutions to real-world problems. I would recommend it to all Design and Technology teachers. It was great to see my pupils focus on inclusivity and community for their project in developing a community centre for the local area.

Linda Hill, Design and Technology teacher at Coundon Court, Coventry

Winning team Coundon Court students and teachers with judges

V&A Innovate is structured around themes inspired by the collection and exhibitions.  Our first theme Go, asked how new approaches to design could support the movement of people, things and ideas. The second, Eat, asked for ideas on sustainable eating and widening access to affordable and healthy food. The third, Wear, asked how technology might be harnessed to transform the future of fashion.

The winning entries for individual categories included a Smartwatch-style wristband to help people walking alone feel safer conceived by students from Camden School for Girls for the category Go; a multi-purpose kitchen appliance for wheelchair users and people living in small spaces developed by pupils studying at Hoe Valley school in Woking for Eat; and a project to create extendable Dr Martens’ shoes for Wear proposed by students from Wrenn School, in Wellingborough, after noticing the prohibitive cost of school shoes for families living on restricted budgets.

Wrenn School Wellingborough, Ever-Growing School shoe entry
Wrenn School Wellingborough, Ever-Growing School shoe entry
Camden Schools for Girls pitching their winning idea in the GO category: Footsteps, a Smartwatch-style wristband to help people walking alone feel safer
Hoe Valley School practicing their pitch for their winning idea in the EAT category: MULTIKITCHEN X, a multi-purpose kitchen appliance for wheelchair users and people living in small spaces
Judge Paul Williams from Brompton Bicycles with jewellery created by the team from Trinity School

Congratulations to all students and teachers that took part. We were really blown away by the entries we received this year and how well all the students did at the awards day!

What’s next for V&A Innovate?

We have announced the categories for the 2020/1 V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge: Community and Home. More on these coming soon. Register your interest to take part next and hear updates about the programme at

Teachers can also attend our annual free V&A Innovate design education conference on 7 July 2020. Book your place here

Winners and finalists

Overall winner:
Coundon Court, Coventry

A Community Centre with a public allotment and cookery school

Go category: Camden School for Girls, Camden

A Fitbit style safety wristband that shows the wearer the fastest and safest route home

Eat category: Hoe Valley School, Woking 

A multi-purpose kitchen appliance for wheelchair users and people living in small spaces

Wear category: Wrenn School, Wellingborough

The ever-growing school shoe – to reduce waste and tackle the affordability of school shoes based on research at a local Dr Marten’s factory

Student choice award: Trinity School, Newbury

Dehydrated jewellery made from fruit and vegetable peels

Teacher Award

Stephanie Sweeney, Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, Darwen


King Ecgbert School, Sheffield

An environmentally friendly cycling bus

Northfield School & Sports College, Billingham

A plastic prevention campaign connected to local shopping habits

Harris Academy, Purley

A playground for pigs, to make happier pigs and help the environment

Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, Darwen

A warm padded jacket for the homeless that protects your belongings 

Hoe Valley School, Woking 

A device that can keep you dry while cycling and encourages more people to get on their bikes


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