OCA Innovation & Collaboration Award Final 2020

OCA Innovation & Collaboration Award Final 2020

The OCA Innovation and Collaboration Award asks our pupils to work on a project in teams of at least two, which they think solves a problem. During a live final, judges see presentations from some of the most promising groups and then announce a winner, who receives a £1000 prize and the offer of support and mentoring.  

Now in its second year, the competition has shown us once again, that the spirit of innovation upon which the school is so proudly built, is very much alive and kicking, even in the year which will undoubtedly be remembered for ‘lockdown’.  

All of last year’s judges returned: Headmaster Ceri Jones, President of the OCA, Clive Furness, Vice-President of the OCA, Karin Schulte and current parent, Preya Jubraj. The combined business experience of our judges is a force to be reckoned with, but our finalists, who this year came from thre different year groups – First Year, Second Year and Upper Sixth, represented very different ideas and solutions to problems they had identified, and seemed entirely undaunted. 

‘Honey Cosmetics’ made up of First Year pupils, Darcey, Tilly, Ruby and Abigail, had created their own line of cosmetics which utilised a honey base. In a gift-wrapped example presented to the judges, there was a lip scrub, face mask and lip gloss, as well as a body scrub. Their presentation was clear and compelling, and they had already got themselves setup on social media to promote their ideas and products. The judges thought that this was a strong group, and one which might be able to grow the idea of promoting eco-friendly, sustainable ‘make your own’ kits celebrated through platforms like Instagram.  

‘Biofilm’ the name of the idea our Second Year pupils Isabelle, Alice, Elisabeth, Sophie and Mathilda came up with, was a homemade potato starch replacement for cling film. It was clear that much research and testing had gone into this idea, with several team members attempting to brew their own potato-based cling film. Their presentation showed broad thinking, noting the need to keep down the food miles on the potatoes they would use as well as an awareness of how they might fit into the burgeoning vegan market. Whilst there was more testing to do, this was a strong idea with a clear purpose and ethos behind it.  

The final entry on the night, and eventual winners, were ‘Funder’, a two-person team made up of Upper Sixth boarders, Misha and Zakhar, who delivered their presentation live from Russia. ‘Funder’ is a platform that wants to increase pupil engagement with school charity projects. It uses Natural Language Processing to analyse pupil writing which then suggests charities they may be interested in supporting. The platform then aggregates which charities students click through to and explore and then sends this data to the member of staff who chooses the school’s charities, meaning that choices can be made based upon causes the pupil body have already engaged with on some level.  


The judges were hugely impressed by the ingenuity and thoughtfulness which had gone into this project and it was clear that both Misha and Zakhar were excited by their work. They will now be supported by the OCA community to develop a full version of ‘Funder’.  

The Headmaster summed up the event as ‘the embodiment of what a school should be doing – inspired, passionate and articulate pupils working together to solve problems and address issues they feel strongly about’ and that is exactly what we got during the award final.  

The future for all the pupils involved, looks to be exciting indeed, and it’s fair to say that the judges will already be looking forwards to next year, to see what our pupils will come up with next. This was a truly inspiring way to close out an unusual year where the whole school community has demonstrated its ability and willingness to innovate in every corner of their lives. 

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