At Mascalls Academy, in the Business Department, for our vocational offering we run the OCR Cambridge National in Business and Enterprise. The course consists of 3 units – 1 exam and 2 coursework units – 1 of the Units that is worth 50% of the course. This unit is what business and enterprise is all about – to set up and run an enterprise of the student’s choosing.

For the last 5 months, 20 year 11 students have been working in 3 groups to create a product or service to be sold over the week before Christmas as part of an Enterprise Event. All students showed a real sense of excitement with the opportunity to make money for a charity of their choice.

Once the students had put themselves into 3 teams the hard work began. Individually they had to come up with as many unique and different business ideas as possible. Some of the more wacky ‘blue sky thinking’ ideas were Reindeer rides around the school site, a Santa’s Grotto and Dunk the Santa.

Students then had to choose their best 3 realistic ideas and create a SWOT analysis for each one and then present them to the rest of the group, developing their business skills.  From that point the groups of students had to develop their business idea – this could be one idea or a combination of a few. The final ideas that the groups came up with were: Christmas Waffles, Mini Bath Bombs and ‘Pandora style’ Bracelets.

Over the weeks from October 2016 to the week before the Christmas break the students were planning their business – everything from marketing, market research, packaging, finance, purchasing and production. While the students were carrying out their tasks they were making sure that they were writing up the evidence about what they were doing to maximise their marks at the end.

The week before they went ‘live’ the classroom was a buzz of anticipation and eagerness to succeed in their business venture – production of the products, last minute purchasing,  Christmas decorations and hats being used to get the students into the ‘Christmas spirit’ with the marketing in full flow around the school.

During the week of the event the groups set up outside the school restaurant, ensuring maximum footfall. Tables were decorated: Christmas music was playing, Santa hats were being worn, Tinsel was glittering and Christmas lights were twinkling to full effect. The students had created a wonderful Christmas atmosphere to encourage students and staff to purchase the products, and that they did!

Within 2 days the bath bombs had sold out, with a turnover over £200 and a profit margin of 70%. The waffles sold well, with restocking needed after the 3rd day and a profit margin of 80%, and a number of bracelets were sold making a 27% profit.

Throughout the week the students were extremely professional, provided excellent customer service and created some excellent products.

After the week was over the students were shattered and they had a real sense of achievement, learning skills and things about themselves that they did not know they had or could do. They had made between them over £160 in profit, giving it to the charity ‘Chasing Connor’s Cure’ (a 4 yr. old boy with Muscular Dystrophy from Hildenborough, Kent).

One student said “Throughout the Unit I have learnt that running a business and working with friends is not easy, especially managing them when they are not completing their tasks and holding them to account – this can cause some problems. A lot of preparation is required to be organised and professional, especially when some of the team were not pulling their weight.

The skills that I will take into my future career are communication, professionalism, customer service and leadership skills such as patience and delegation.

Overall this was a fantastic experience, one that will help me my whole professional life.”

Now the hard work starts completing the write up, reflecting on their experiences and gaining the high grades that they all deserve.