3 ideas for improving pupils’ enterprise skills

What if schools were to focus on the soft skills with as much vigour as they do on core subjects and academic rigour? Rigour and results will get students to the interview stage, but it is the soft skills that show the real ingenuity and potential that lasts a lifetime

When students leave school or university, most do not have a great deal of life experience for all the obvious reasons, but with age at the top. They arrive at their first job interview and feel pretty green – because they are. We cannot force years of experience, but we can add something unique.

Here are three suggestive and successful ways to bring student enterprise to your school focusing on autonomy, collaboration, communication and creativity.

The original notebook

A notebook currently on the market has just one app with endless possibilities… it is called paper.

When a student attends an interview for the first time, having a notebook brimming with ideas can be hugely beneficial. This isn’t an art portfolio or a book illustrating artistic ability, in fact there should be no emphasis on making things look pretty or refined; how the ideas are recorded is not the point.

A notebook brimming with ideas can be hugely beneficial

Instead, encourage your students to simply record their concepts. Whether it’s an innovative marketing campaign for a local charity, an invention, ideas for cross-curricular and community-linked ideas or even a way to make things better for people in the community or our planet, it’s all valuable.

It also gets students into entrepreneurial habits and shows potential employers they are thinking differently.

Now it’s business

Imagine your students setting up a small design agency or creative think-tank with real local clients and working with them to find fresh solutions. It could be a local dog rescue centre looking for campaign ideas, a small B&B needing a new leaflet or a homeless action group that wants to bring attention to what they do through a flashmob or “hidden camera” YouTube viral film. (Think of the PR potential for your school.)

Also, if your school has a bespoke space that could be used to set up a small agency, then even better – it needn’t be grand, but having something that looks a little different to a classroom gives students a real feeling of real-world enterprise.

Space is not always easy to find in a school, but with a little imagination it can become something very special as it builds up over time.

With business cards, a logo and website, students can soon start to develop relationships with local clients, and skills that last a lifetime, regardless of their eventual career.

Project idea: refreshing results

Students form small working groups, choose a charity (local, nationals or international) and then spend two weeks raising funds through sponsored activities. The money isn’t given to the charity… not just yet, because the real project starts now.

Teams then design a logo and in-school marketing campaign to promote their new business, which is all about branding, promoting, making and selling smoothies at school.

With the funds raised, the teams each buy a smoothie machine, fruit and paper cups. The goal is simple: make more than the original funds raised, enjoy a bit of “healthy” competition with peers and then give all of the funds to the chosen charity.

The winner isn’t really important, because every business will donate every penny to their chosen charity anyway, but for the students, it can still be made into a competition.

It’s cross-curricular, great for the students, fantastic links between school, community and charity and gives students a taste of small enterprise, with skills beyond the school gates.

Real-world skills, real-world results… for life.


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