Pupil Design Awards entry requirements and judging

How to enter the Awards

Pupils can enter as a team or individually. Teams are entered into one of three age group categories: Years 7 & 8, Years 9 & 10, and Years 11, 12 & 13.

We advise that pupils present their proposal on six A3 boards so judges can understand the research and design process they have been through. These six boards need to tell the story of their design thinking process from research to final idea. You can find more information on how to structure these boards in the 2021-22 teacher resource pack.

Entry requirements

  • All pupils must be enrolled in Years 7-13 for the academic year 2022-23 at your school.*
  • Pupils can submit their proposals in a team or as individuals. We encourage teams of no bigger than five pupils.
  • There is no entry fee for the RSA Pupil Design Awards.

*If you are interested in entering the competition as a youth group or club, please contact [email protected] to find out more.

Pupil Design Awards students presenting

Submission criteria

Pupils' proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Social and environmental impact

  • How does the proposal make a positive difference for people and/or the natural world?
  • How does the proposal consider diverse needs and equitable ways to meet those needs?
  • How does the proposal engage with the local community in its chosen context?
  • How does the proposal consider using materials, processes, and resources in a sustainable way?

Rigorous research and compelling insights

  • Has the pupil/team undertaken first-hand research by identifying the needs and motivations of people affected by the problem in your brief?
  • Has the pupil/team conducted research into the wider context of the problem on the internet or through reading material?
  • How does the proposal build on key insights grounded in people’s needs and motivations, and gained through wider research?
  • How does the proposal incorporate feedback and testing through prototyping and iteration?


  • Has the pupil/team considered how the proposal will work in practice?
  • Has the pupil/team considered the cost of the proposal and how it might be funded and sustained?
  • Has the pupil/team identified any potential barriers that might prevent the proposal working in practice? How might these be overcome?
  • Has the pupil/team considered how they would measure the success of their proposal if it became a reality?

Creativity and innovation

  • How is the proposal different from existing solutions? How might it be better or more useful?
  • What unexpected or surprising elements are included in the proposal? What value do these add to the idea?

Evaluation process

The Pupil Design Awards is judged in three categories: Year 7 & 8, 9 & 10, and Year 12. Expert reviewers in the past have included Student Design Award alumni, Royal Designers for Industry, practising designers and RSA staff.

This year (2022-23), we are changing the process to move away from a competitive format, and towards one that aims to celebrate all pupils’ work as much as possible. The new process is outlined below:

  1. Submission - The final deadline for entries will be Friday 28 April 2023. Submissions are evaluated per age group by a curated panel of judges.
  2. Expert appraisal - Our experts selected from professionals working across design, academia, and education review pupils’ work, providing individual feedback and making commendations for exemplary proposals.
  3. Shortlisting - The panel come together to deliberate, using the evaluation tool and the judging criteria, to shortlist a handful of projects per category to be shortlisted. The RSA team contacts all competition entrants to let them know whether or not they have been shortlisted.
  4. Interviews - The shortlist are invited to an interview with the judges where they will have the opportunity to present their project to the judges in and answer a few questions from the judges based on the judging criteria.
  5. Deliberation - The judges mark all interviews using an evaluation tool and the judging criteria and then deliberate to select their winners.
  6. Awards announcement - Commended entries are invited to attend a joint awards day at RSA House to celebrate alongside Student Design Award winner.


Pupil Design Awards

Inspiring social change through design thinking.