V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge 2021 – 2022 shortlist announced

Learning & National Programmes
February 7, 2022
Left: Zoe Laughlin, Innovate Judge, and David Houston, Team Leader, Schools and Colleges, V&A. Top right: Magid Magid, Innovate Judge, and Dr Helen Charman, Director Young V&A and Learning and National Programmes. Bottom right: Rama Gheerawo, Innovate Judge, and Cara Williams, Senior Producer, Schools and Colleges. © Victoria and Albert Museum

We are thrilled to announce the shortlist for the V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge 2021 – 22, a celebration of young people’s imaginative and inspiring design solutions.

Working in teams, we asked students in years 7, 8 and 9 to create design solutions for real world problems whilst taking a human-centred approach. They chose to explore one of three contextual challenges – Renew, Move and Connect. These were inspired by our Design: 1900 – Now galleries, which ask critical questions about contemporary issues in our world today. Within their chosen theme, student teams found their own real and relevant problem, and then worked on a new design solution.

We are delighted to have three inspiring industry judges on the panel for this year’s challenge:

Left to right: Magid Magid, Zoe Laughlin, Rama Gheerawo © Victoria and Albert Museum

Zoe Laughlin: Co-founder and Director of the Institute of Making and the Materials Library, Podcaster, Broadcaster, Designer, Maker and Materials Engineer.

Magid Magid: Race and Climate Justice Activist, Organiser, Author, and Founder and Director of Union of Justice.

Rama Gheerawo: Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, and RCA Reader in Inclusive Design.

Close to 2,000 students took part, and entries were submitted by 119 teams. The judges helped select the ten finalist teams and will be choosing the winners at our annual Pitching and Awards Day taking place on 22 March.

V&A Innovate is a core part of our mission to champion the place of arts education on the curriculum and to nurture the change-makers of tomorrow. Teachers delivered the project over the Autumn term, during lessons or as part of lunchtime and after school clubs, and we were truly excited to receive so many thoughtful, well-researched, creative, and inspiring ideas from students from all over the country.



Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, Darwen

A recycling and food waste bin that provides free compost for the local area.

Saint Cecilia’s CofE School, London

ManyPen – a multifunctional pen and pencil stub holder to help reduce plastic production and waste.

Sandbach High School and Sixth From College, Sandbach

SAFE – pillows made from repurposed school shirts to provide comfort for homeless people locally

The Tiffin Girls’ School, London

Do-Able Designs – instructional booklet of design ideas to encourage young people to reuse and repurpose fashion waste.


Thomas Gainsborough School, Sudbury

Enercycle – an ‘electricity bike library’. A gym with exercise bikes that generate electricity that can be used by the community.

King Ecgbert School, Sheffield

A caterpillar-wheeled walker to support people with limited mobility to explore more of the outdoors.

Houlton School, Rugby

The Rewalkable – an adjustable walking stick for the partially sighted, made from recycled products.


Watling Academy, Milton Keynes

Moffle – a toy that supports isolated, lonely and anxious people to communicate with friends and family members.

The Tiffin Girls School, London

Cook. Culture. Connect. A cookbook designed to support people to reconnect following COVID-19.

Outwood Academy Haydock, St Helens

The Ultimate Facemask designed to support people to communicate more easily when wearing facemasks.

Winners will be announced in March as part of the V&A Innovate Pitching and Awards Day. It’s going to be a tough decision for the judges!

V&A Innovate resources are free-to-access for any school, and the National Schools Challenge is open to state-funded secondary schools in England.

Find out more about V&A Innovate.

1 comment so far, view or add yours


Thank you so much for organising this event. The pupils will learn so much from taking part. All the ideas sound so impressive, good luck to all participants!

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