The School: Cowley St Laurence CE Primary

Cowley St Laurence, based in Hillingdon, is part of the Frays Academy Trust. Teachers at Cowley work hard to ensure every student is given the opportunity to develop and succeed, and Cowley St Laurence is proud to be an inclusive school. The school has worked with Enabling Enterprise to develop their students’ enterprise skills and aspirations through Business Trips to local companies and organisations. In the Autumn term, the whole school took part in an exciting ‘Operation: Moonbase‘ Challenge Day, which put their Using Imagination and Working in a Team skills to the test as they had to set up a brand new colony on a distant planet. Later this year, classes will be running Lesson-Time Projects as part of their Enterprise Week, culminating in the school’s Summer Fayre.

Today’s challenge was a fantastic opportunity for students from Year 4 to experience the world of work and put their Enterprise Skills to the test in an exciting challenge that was sure to test their Problem Solving skills once again.

The Business: Thames Water

Thames Water serve 15 million customers in the Thames area – that’s almost one quarter of the entire population of the UK! Each day, they provide 2.6 billion litres of clean tap water (enough to fill 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools) and they also treat sewage: around 4.2 billion litres every day. In addition, Thames Water work to maintain 85,000 miles of pipes and water mains, enough to stretch around the world 3.5 times!

Gerry, a partner of the Thames Water education team from the charity Groundwork, worked with the students throughout the day on the Hogsmill site in Surrey, to help them learn all about how the water treatment plant works and how they could apply this newfound knowledge alongside their enterprise skills to become waterworks engineers.

The Challenge: The Network Challenge

The day started off with the students gaining an understanding into what materials we should and shouldn’t be flushing down our toilets, as a simple experiment showed just how quickly toilet paper breaks down to become treatable, in contrast to baby wipes which remain in the pipes and can cause blockages. The teams then embarked on a tour of the plant, which enabled them to see the different stages of treating waste water, from the screening process of the newly-arrived sewage, to filtration so that water becomes clean enough again in order to return to our rivers.

Along the way, the students learned of all the benefits arising from the treatment of sewage, including the dried ‘cake’ used as manure in farms to the methane-fuelled electric generators powering the site’s buildings!

With a sound understanding of the plant and its treatment processes, the teams returned to take on their network engineering challenge. By Working in a Team and Sharing Ideas, the teams were able to plan and map a route which would allow for all of their ‘customers’ to be provided with clean water. Using their Problem Solving skills, every student contributed to ensure a clear and effective network was created.

What they said:

  • “The children were all so eager to be involved. The activity was challenging and engaging, as well as being purposeful and linked to a real-life scenario. They will go away from here with a better understanding of how things are all connected, as well as taking groupwork and multi-tasking skills and a positive attitude.” – Teacher
  • “I was so impressed by how they listened and came up with some really interesting questions to find out more information. They have learned a lot today and each one of them has done a brilliant job to help their team.” – Gerry, Volunteer
  • “I love it here! It’s so interesting… I never thought I’d want to find out where sewage goes, but now I’m going to tell my friends what happens when they flush the toilet!” – Student

Thanks to everyone for such a great trip day!

Enabling Enterprise are working in partnership with schools and businesses to support students to build enterprise skills and aspirations. Find out more by contacting us or visiting

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