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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.7 Skills for innovation

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 25/10/2020 - 22:47

On this page
  1. Innovation in formal education
  2. Fostering innovation through non-formal and informal learning and youth work

Innovation in formal education

Skills which support innovation are not explicitly part of the National Curriculum,.

The only direct reference to innovation in the National Curriculum is within the subject ‘design and technology’. One of the purposes of studying this subject, as described in the National Curriculum , is that ‘Pupils learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens’. The subject is not compulsory at Key Stage 4 (age 14-16) but schools must provide it as an option (known as an entitlement subject).

Opportunities for innovative skills development may be provided through personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), which all schools should make provision for, or in any other subjects or topics which schools may choose to introduce. The PSHE Association has developed a programme of study for PSHE. For Key Stage 5 (the final two years of upper secondary education, students aged 16-18/19), the programme includes as suggested learning opportunities for ‘Core Theme 3: Living in the wider world’, reinforcing or extending pupil's ability to:

  • be enterprising in life and work
  • demonstrate creativity and problem solving
  • respond to change
  • respect diversity
  • show initiative

The Government provides Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund to enhance teachers’ skills, confidence and knowledge as the government’s initiative to support and increase great teaching and leadership in schools. Pedagogical tools are not provided to the teachers however. 

Further information

There are overlaps in the types of skills supporting innovation and those supporting entrepreneurship and creativity. See the article on 'Development of Entrepreneurship Competence' and its subheading 'Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training' for information on these.

Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education


Fostering innovation through non-formal and informal learning and youth work

The National STEM Learning Network is a joint initiative by the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and The Wellcome Trust. The initiative, which is UK-wide, was set up in direct response to concerns about the engagement of young people in science.Among the programmes and projects run by the network, is the STEM Ambassadors programme. STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs and disciplines. As well as working with schools and colleges across the UK, the network works with youth and community groups and others to ensure they have access to STEM Ambassadors to engage young people with STEM subjects outside the classroom.With the support of Government funding, this programme is offered free of charge to education providers and youth and community organisations.

British Science Week is an annual programme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths events and activities across the UK for people of all ages. It is run by the British Science Association (BSA). British Science Week supports any type of organiser, including youth and community groups and will help organisers to plan events by providing a range of free activity and support resources.BSA  also began running a new extra-curricular initiative in 2018 for young people aged 11-to-19 to come up with innovative solutions that have the potential to change the world in global health and development issues.

The initiative, Youth Grand Challenges, links with BSA’s CREST Awards programme which is the only nationally recognised accreditation scheme for young people’s project work in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.  The awards are offered at six levels and are for 5- to 19-year-olds. CREST gives young people the chance to participate in hands-on science through investigations and enquiry-based learning. The programme can be run in schools, clubs, youth groups, other organisations or at home.