Students step into the Dragons’ Den

Students at Oakwood School put their entrepreneurial skills to the test, competing to turn a £10 investment into a profit-making business

In addition to coming up with a business proposal and marketing campaign to attract customers, the Year 6 pupils also had to pitch their ideas to a team of three Dragons, in order to win an investment.

The Dragons, who consisted of an Oakwood governor, the bursar and the head of marketing, questioned the children closely about their business proposals, leaving no rock unturned. The scheme, now in its third year at the Chichester prep school, seeks to engage the students through practical application of their learning, in addition to fostering business and entrepreneurial skills. It resonates with the content of a new Government paper, launched in June by David Cameron, which promotes the teaching of enterprise and entrepreneurship in primary schools.

Oakwood’s head of maths, Richard Bax, said: “The Skills and Enterprise minister, Richard Hancock, has been saying this week that it’s important that young people gain the skills and experience they need to help them understand what it means to run a business and to do it successfully, and I couldn’t agree more… It teaches them vital financial lessons about how to make your money grow.”

The students pitched a variety of business ideas to the Oakwood Dragons, from dip dying hair and offering manicures, to a beat the goalie game and selling home-made cakes; the latter set up their stalls on a sunny afternoon to sell to the pupils, staff and parents.

Participant Freddie Mayhead, whose stall – XLR8 – ran a Scalextric challenge, spoke about the process: “We learnt about different business skills, what our target customers might like, how to make our stall stand out from the others and how to get the most profit from the afternoon. The dragons must have liked our pitch as they gave us an extra £5 on top of the initial investment, which we put to good use, offering ice cream milkshakes as a side-line to the racing game.”

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