V&A Innovate is an annual National Schools Challenge, asking students in years 7, 8 and 9 to work in teams of 4 – 6 to design a solution to a real-world problem.
We're asking students to work in teams to follow a human-centred design process and respond to one of the three challenge themes inspired by V&A collections:
Restore: How might we use design to restore our connections to the world around us? Can we restore our relationship with nature and breathe new life into materials, objects and buildings?
Play: How might we use design to encourage more play and playfulness in our lives? How might we ensure playing is accessible for everyone?
Sense: How might we design with our senses in mind, to support us to all explore the world around us, experience joy and wonder, and connect with each other?
Students submit their ideas on two A3 design sheets and finalist teams are invited to pitch their ideas to our expert judges at our annual Pitching and Awards Day at the museum.
We recommend planning for a minimum of six hours to deliver the project. It could be run over a term within Design and Technology, or over a day with a STEAM project, or with an extra-curricular club.
- Deadline for entries: 12 January 2024
- Pitching and Awards Day: 19 March 2024
- All students who enter receive a participation certificate
- Shortlisted entries are judged by a panel of industry experts and receive judges' feedback
- Finalists are invited to attend the annual Pitching and Awards Day at the V&A in London
- Prizes, including plaques, trophies and workshops with designers, are awarded to winning teams of students and teachers
Please note only state-funded secondary schools in England are eligible to take part.
Watch this short film of our 2022 – 2023 finalist teams describing their experience of taking part in V&A Innovate at the Pitching and Awards Day.
V&A Innovate blog
Find out more about previous winners, finalists and judges, plus watch recordings of webinars with talks from designers and teachers.
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 class to show the power of design in a fast-changing world.
Register to take part, then head over to our resources pages to get started. Resources include using V&A collections to explore the themes, student worksheets, and films with designers and curators.
V&A Innovate supports:
- Delivery of KS3 STEAM activities, cross-curricular teaching, and KS3 Design and Technology projects
- 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 models the NEA of GCSE specs with its emphasis on design thinking, problem solving and iteration
- Artsmark and Arts Award
- Celebrating and advocating for the role of design and creativity in your school
Benefits of students taking part include:
- Developing interdisciplinary problem solving skills, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication
- Learning about the work of future-looking designers and innovators
- Engaging with some of the most innovative objects in the V&A collections
- Exploring different design processes and applying them to real life
- Earning the chance to win awards and prizes for their school
Get inspired at our free online teacher events and hear top tips from other teachers about how to deliver the programme. Get in touch with us to organise a free, bespoke V&A Innovate session for your school or trust.
Register to take part
Register to take part in the V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge and to be kept up to date with news by email.
Get in touch
V&A Innovate is created by us in collaboration with designers and secondary school teachers across the country. If at any point you have questions, suggestions or ideas, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
V&A Innovate is generously supported by the Art Explora – Académie des beaux-arts European Award and The John S Cohen Foundation.