V&A Innovate

Our world is changing fast and we need to inspire the designers of tomorrow. V&A Innovate is an online resource hub and annual National Schools Challenge, inviting students in years 7, 8 and 9 to work in teams to design a solution to a real-world problem.

V&A Innovate gives students the opportunity to experience the power of design and technology in solving some of the world's biggest problems. Through taking part, they will be encouraged to ask critical questions about the issues shaping our world.

V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge is returning for 2020 – 2021, launching this September! We have extended the deadline for entries to 26 March 2021, so you have more time to take part.



Whether you’re a teacher of D&T, Art & Design, Sciences, Geography, Citizenship, or something else entirely, you could run V&A Innovate in your classroom to show the power of design in a fast-changing world.

V&A Innovate could be run online or face-to-face over a term within D&T, or over a day with a STEAM project, or with an extra-curricular club. This year we're asking KS3 students in teams of 4 – 6 to respond to one of two themes for the annual National Schools Challenge: Home and Community.

  • Home
    Explore the theme of home through the lens of sustainable living, accessibility, or homelessness.
    Our homes have never been more central to our lives. It is where we sleep, eat, and now increasingly work, study and play. What if our homes could help us tackle climate change? How might we make homes of the future accessible for all? Could a design idea help support those without a place to live?
  • Community
    Explore the theme of community through the lens of how we can connect and bring people together, accessibility, or creating eco-friendly communities.
    What does community mean to you, and how can design help bring people in your community together? How can design help build an inclusive community, either in person or online, to tackle isolation? What does a planet-friendly community look like? What if we could help people access and make better use of public and shared spaces?

New resources and online teacher CPD to support delivery of each theme will be launched at the start of September 2020. See our current resources for guidance on how to plan and deliver Innovate, including an overall project structure.

Key Information

Key Information

The V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge is open to students in years 7, 8 and 9 at state-funded secondary schools. New resources and more information about the Challenge will be launched in September, so start by signing up below to be kept up to date with Innovate news by email.

Take a look at our resources page to help you plan and deliver V&A Innovate in your classroom.

How to submit

If your school is entering the 2020 – 21 V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge you'll need to submit your students' entries to innovate@vam.ac.uk by 26 March 2021.

Students can present their idea in any creative method they think best, as long as it is presented on two A3 sheets, and describes the whole design process, from research to final idea. Take a look at last year's Judging Criteria & Entry Requirements on the teachers' resources page to support your planning and check back in September for a new Submission Template.

All students who enter will receive a certificate for taking part and feedback on their design idea. Shortlisted entries will be judged by a panel of industry experts in April 2021. Selected finalists will be invited to attend our annual V&A Innovate Pitching & Awards Day in the Summer Term 2021.

A selection of prizes, including plaques, trophies and workshops with designers, will be awarded to winning teams of students and teachers.

Register to take part

Why Innovate?

Why Innovate?

V&A Innovate supports:

  • Delivery of D&T curriculum and scaffolds towards the NEA component of the D&T GCSE
  • The broad themes will encourage students to explore the real-world role of design in tackling the impact of global trends and will model the NEA of GCSE Specs with its emphasis on design thinking, problem solving and iteration
  • Inspiration for STEAM and cross-curricular teaching
  • Artsmark and Arts Award
  • Celebrating and advocating for the role of design in your school

Students taking part in V&A Innovate develop their interdisciplinary problem-solving skills, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. They will engage with some of the most innovative objects in our collections, explore different design processes and apply them to real life scenarios. They will also gain the chance to win awards and prizes for their school.

Find out about last year's winners, finalists, and the Pitching & Awards day on our blog.

Get in touch

Get in touch

Innovate is created by us in collaboration with designers and secondary schools across the country. If at any point you have questions, suggestions or ideas, drop us a line at innovate@vam.ac.uk