Sarah Marlow is Regional Manager for our programmes in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Here she reflects on how a long-term relationship with one particular school has produced a brilliant impact for its teachers and students.

I love working with Fairway Primary Academy. And it was great to have that reciprocated as our EE Champion at the school, Sue Penhallow, recounted all of the students’ achievements to OFSTED.

Getting Started

Fairway Primary have been an EE partner school for some time – and that matters. Our mission is to ensure that all students leave school equipped with the enterprise skills, experiences of work and aspirations to be successful. This is certainly not a quick fix.

Many of our schools go on a journey with us. The starting point is often schools wanting to get stuck in straight away with their lesson-time projects, challenge days and business trips. Over time though, as teachers get more familiar with our eight enterprise skills, the additional teacher training and rigorous skills assessment come to the fore.

A New Year

So it was with Fairway. After a year of regular Enterprise lessons, business trips and a challenge day, the teachers’ questions more rigorous than at the beginning of the year: Teachers were keen to understand how to build up ‘pace’ in delivery, shorten or widen the projects, differentiate and personalise the projects for all students. They wanted to make the most of the tangible outcomes with celebration ideas, embed the projects into the new curriculum and assess the students’ skills progress.

This year, Sue and I focused on deepening the impact of the programme and embedding the eight Enterprise Skills into the curriculum at Fairway.

Initial support sessions included an overview of Enterprise Education and Project Based Learning theory. We wanted to delve into what was working successfully for the school and what could be further improved so we reviewed the Enabling Enterprise impact report. This explores the students’ skills development over the previous year and meant we could really focus on particular skills in 2014-15.

Thinking about the school’s priorities

We work with over 150 schools now, and we know that it’s essential that the programme chimes with each school’s priorities. At Fairway, the key goals were to support their development plan, teacher development and celebrate successes.

This evolved into an informal Learning Walk to celebrate successes in developing the Enterprise Skills, and to capture and share the best of what was going on. We celebrate a clear focus, positive reinforcement, celebration of, and student ownership over skills development. Each lesson-time project has a tangible outcome, so we identify quality outcomes based on multiple drafting, peer critique and reflection, as well as a sense of occasion being built into the launch and culmination of each project.

While Enterprise Skills are the main focus of our lesson-time projects, they can’t be taught in isolation. So we also helped identify cross curricular links, embedding the projects and further development of skills into the curriculum

The Students’ Experiences

So much of the energy though comes from the students’ enthusiasm for their work. Here’s what Year 4 had to say about their Number Crunching project, to launch a new brand of chocolate: “In the market research we had to ask 10 children if they liked our ideas for the packaging, price, name and flavour. We had to find out how much money the expenditure, income and profit came to. The expenditure is how much money the ingredients are. The income is how much we make selling the chocolate for. The profit is how much you have left after we take away the cost of ingredients from how much we sell the bar for. We also made an advert to sell our bar. We made a slogan to go with our advert. Our slogan was ‘Reach for the stars’.” Oliver M, Year 4 student

One of his fellow team members added: “My favourite part of Enabling Enterprise was when our team presented our presentation in front of Mr Grist and Ms Stringer and won! I think that the problems we had were choosing who was the, chairperson, timekeeper and coordinator. Once we had a role we were able to work well. We had a major problem though – we were putting too much pressure on Oliver W! We gave him a long line to learn in about half an hour to read for our first ever presentation! As a team, we need to work together and help each other. Giving each other encouragement and positive feedback when working with each other to do something,” Charley-Mae, Year 4 student.

Looking to the Future

Through this process, Sue and the other teachers can see how the programmes will continue to grow in depth and have gained a much stronger overview of the value and impact of the programmes at Fairway for students and for staff development. So much so, that during the OFTED visit in January, Sue was proud to direct inspectors towards Enabling Enterprise project display boards and talk about the skills development and language of skills being embedded at Fairway as part of the school ethos: not merely a set of resources which the school buy in to.

As Sue reflected: “We are planning to embed the challenge skills further into the curriculum at Fairway by building on the Learning Walks that we have developed and using the impact report to personalise the programmes. We intend to add references to the skills in our topic planning to draw out opportunities to embed skills across the curriculum and use the projects as a model for meaningful cross-curricular learning.

“We want to develop learners without limits, who challenge and reflect on their own learning. It’s these ‘softer’ skills that will make the difference ultimately in the world of work.”

Fairway Primary Academy have been an Enabling Enterprise Partner School this year. To find out about how you can get involved, just get in touch.

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