Students get creative in The Great British Make Off

Ben Fogle reveals the winners of Great British Make Off, a National Design & Technology competition that challenges children to transform cycling.

Celebrity chef Steve Walpole and Ben Fogle sampling Spa Dew, by Paige Dean, Shauna Scott and Airann Richards
Celebrity chef Steve Walpole and Ben Fogle sampling Spa Dew, by Paige Dean, Shauna Scott and Airann Richards.

One morning in December, adventurer and broadcaster Ben Fogle unveiled the winners of the first ever Great British Make Off national schools design and technology competition at the Design Museum in London.

The competition, run by the Design & Technology Association, the professional association that represents all those involved in design and technology education, challenged students aged between 11 and 14 to create design concepts with the potential to change the sport of cycling.

A panel of experts, headed by Dick Powell, founder and chief executive of the design and innovation company Seymourpowell, inspected more than 150 entries to select four national winners:

  • Turn Bright – cycling gloves with built-in indicators to reduce road accidents by Neve Upton from Bideford College
  • Shock Tyres – a bicycle tyre that needs no air and therefore never goes flat by Jay Earnshaw, Rachel Creer, Ella Richards, and Iliya Ivanov from Sale Grammar School
  • Find My Bike – a device and accompanying smartphone app, which allows cyclists to locate and track their bicycle if it has been stolen or misplaced by Ramneek Ahluwalia from Beal High School
  • Spa Dew – a protein shake containing five different fruits and vegetables to give cyclists a boost of energy by Paige Dean, Shauna Scott and Airann Richards from Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy

Celebrity chef Steve Walpole and Ben Fogle sampling Spa Dew, by Paige Dean, Shauna Scott and Airann Richards
Shock Tyres need no air and therefore never goes flat by Jay Earnshaw, Rachel Creer, Ella Richards and Iliya Ivanov from Sale Grammar School.

Winners spent the day at the design headquarters of the judging panel organisations that included folding bike creators Brompton, Team Sky kit supplier Rapha, cycle safety developers Blaze, and celebrity chef Steve Walpole. Here they created 3D visualisations of their ideas, as well as working prototypes.

It allowed young people to gain design experience and get a taste of what it would be like to work in industry. “It’s a chance for students to see there are lots of roles in industry to go into,” commented Hayley Smith, textiles teacher at Bideford College. “Young people have the greatest imaginations and have ideas that adults would miss,” added Andrew Brides, design and technology teacher at Sale Grammar School.

Ben Fogle commented: “Having rowed the Atlantic Ocean and crossed Antarctica on foot, I can testify first-hand to the extraordinary contribution British designers, engineers and

The Find My Bike device, by Ramneek Ahluwalia
The Find My Bike device, by Ramneek Ahluwalia.

inventors play in helping push the boundaries of human endeavour. Competitions like the Great British Make Off shine a light on the practical and creative skills which are part of the UK’s DNA.”

Richard Green, CEO of the Design & Technology Association, added: “Design and technology is absolutely fundamental to the growth of UK plc, but remains chronically undervalued and widely misunderstood at the highest levels.

“Britain pioneered D&T teaching in schools as a way to address the skills requirements of the

21st century, but we now face the very real prospect of the subject disappearing entirely from schools in the next five years. To my mind, this would be a huge and damaging backward step.”