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SecondaryDesign & TechnologyThe Arts

5 reasons to try… V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge


Find out what creative heights your students are capable of by entering this free inter-schools competition organised by the V&A…

30 Second Briefing

V&A Innovate is a National Schools Challenge created with teachers and designers to equip young people at KS3 with the confidence and skills to develop solutions for real-world issues.

We’re asking students to follow a human and planet-centred design process, and respond to one of three challenge themes inspired by V&A collections.

1. Free to enter

V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge is open to all students in years 7, 8 and 9 at state-funded schools, and is free to enter.

This year’s themes are Restore, Play and Sense, inspired by objects in the V&A collection and issues we are facing in the world today.

2. Curriculum-based

V&A Innovate supports the delivery of the D&T curriculum and scaffolds skills towards the NEA component of the D&T GCSE.

The broad themes of the challenge encourage students to explore the role that design plays when it comes to tackling real-world issues. Modelled on the non-exam assessment specification of the D&T GCSE, V&A Innovate’s challenge themes this year emphasise design thinking, problem solving and iteration.

Beyond this, the competition will further require entrants to demonstrate interdisciplinary skills, creativity, critical thinking, co-ordinated collaboration and effective communication.

3. Supporting resources available

Check out the wide range of free online resources designed to support schools with delivering the challenge.

Teacher and student toolkits will guide you through the design process step by step, and include contributions from teachers and designers. The student toolkit encourages creative thinking and collaboration through activities.

Be sure to also explore our series of films and animations containing advice from assorted designers and curators, which will bring real-world design lessons into your classroom in a lively and engaging way – and hopefully help to inspire your students’ own design ideas.

Visit to find out more.

“Teacher and student toolkits will guide you through the design process step by step, and include contributions from teachers and designers.”

4. Rewards and recognition

Every student who takes part will receive a participation certificate and feedback from our judging panel of industry experts.

The finalists’ work will be displayed at the museum, and students will also have the chance to win prizes, including plaques, trophies and places on designer-led workshops.

5. Online teacher events

Join our V&A Innovate online teacher sessions for a helpful introduction to the programme and this year’s themes. The sessions will also afford a chance to pick up some top tips from other teachers who have taken part in previous years.

Places are entirely free of charge – for further details and to book your place, visit

For more information, visit or email

What teachers say
  • “The whole experience has been absolutely wonderful and incredibly inspiring!”
  • “This has given me greater confidence in my teaching, value and contribution within the school.”
  • “It has been wonderful working Innovate into lesson plans, especially as the resources are so well thought-out, user-friendly and easy to access.”
  • “Innovate is now embedded into our D&T curriculum throughout the academic year. It’s so enjoyable to deliver, enhancing and developing our teaching.”

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