V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge 2023 – 2024 shortlist announced



February 2, 2024

We are excited to announce the shortlist for the annual V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge 2023 – 24. V&A Innovate is a core part of our mission to champion the vital place of creative education in the curriculum and to nurture the change-makers of tomorrow. Teachers from all over England delivered the project over the Summer and Autumn terms to over 2,400 students, during lessons or as part of lunchtime or afterschool clubs. Students in years 7, 8 and 9 worked closely in teams of 4-6, to come up with ideas to help solve real-world problems. 

This year’s Innovate themes were Restore, Play and Sense. These themes challenged students to use design to breathe new life into materials, objects and buildings, encourage more play and playfulness, and support themselves and others with the senses and universal accessibility in mind. Students investigated the themes, undertook research in their school or local area, and used iteration and prototyping to come up with an idea that could have a positive impact on people and the planet. Teams then entered two design sheets describing their design journey and their idea. From the 226 entries received this year, our industry judging panel helped select ten finalist teams who are invited to the V&A in South Kensington on 19 March to pitch their ideas to the judges. 

Our inspiring industry judges this year are: 

  • Jay Blades: Eco-designer and Presenter of The Repair Shop 
  • Victoria Jenkins: Garment Technologist and Founder of Unhidden  
  • Camille Walala: Designer and Founder of Studio Walala  

At the V&A Innovate Pitching & Awards Day, the judges will present awards to six winning groups: Overall Winner, Restore Winner, Sense Winner, Play Winner, Best Pitch, and Student Choice Winner, voted on the day by students. Finalists and winners receive trophies to take back to school and the overall winners will receive a free workshop.

Innovate judges looking through student challenge entries
The judges and V&A Innovate team shortlisting © Victoria & Albert Museum
Designer Camille Walala and Schools & Colleges Team Leader David Houston © Victoria & Albert Museum
Innovate judge Victoria Jenkins looking at student entry
Schools & Colleges Senior Producer Vanessa Weibel and Garment Technologist Victoria Jenkins © Victoria & Albert Museum
Innovate judge Jay Blades discussing entries with Helen Charman
Eco-designer and Presenter Jay Blades and Dr Helen Charman, Director Young V&A and Learning and National Programmes © Victoria & Albert Museum
Four Innovate judges standing together
Left to right: Dr Helen Charman, Jay Blades, Victoria Jenkins, Camille Walala © Victoria & Albert Museum

FINALIST SCHOOLS AND THEIR DESIGN IDEAS

RESTORE

Severn Vale School, Gloucestershire – Pill Box 
A box designed to help people living with dementia to take their medicine. 

Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Essex – Green Gift 
Eco-friendly wrapping paper that can biodegrade and make new green spaces. 

Kingsdale Foundation School, London – Restore: The App 
An app to support people to make their DIY projects more environmentally-friendly. 

Outwood Academy Haydock, Merseyside – Restore Décor Terrarium 
A way for people to connect with nature through a green space in their home. 

SENSE

Ecclesbourne School, Derbyshire – Learning Lamp 
A lamp for people with dyslexia that supports their needs when reading. 

Rosebery School, Surrey – Neck Pillow 
A soothing sensory neck device for children on the autistic spectrum. 

Camden School for Girls, London – The Spelling Bee 
A device that supports people facing literacy challenges. 

PLAY

Stockport Academy, Cheshire – Tiddly Winks 
An eco-friendly modernisation of the traditional game. 

Kelvin Hall School, East Yorkshire – Awareness of Overpopulation 
Digital tech tools to make playtime and sports more accessible for all students. 

Central Foundation Girls’ School, London – Playground 
A space for community and play for a variety of ages and needs. 

Winners will be announced in March following the Pitching & Awards Day. Wishing luck to all teams! 

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. 
 

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