The School:

Isle of Ely Primary School in Cambridge is in its third year working with Enabling Enterprise to develop a set of eight Essential Skills in their students. Students from all year groups have had the opportunity to practise those skills through Lesson-Time Projects and also on whole-school Challenge Days, when for example they investigated a mysterious crime scene on their own school premises or, more recently, when they planned for and set up a ‘moonbase’ called Utopia. Today’s trip was a fantastic opportunity for a selection of Year 2 students to stretch their essential skills outside the classroom, particularly honing in on Problem Solving and Staying Positive as they were supported by professional business volunteers.

The Business:

Mott MacDonald is an employee-owned management, engineering and development consultancy working around the world. Today from their offices in Cambridge, volunteers Anna, Brad, Chloë, Claire and Liam came from a range of departments within the business to support the budding entrepreneurs on a stretching challenge.

The Challenge: Decisive Developers

The day started off with the 6- and 7-year olds impressing their Mott MacDonald volunteers from the off with their Working in a Team skills as they were set a warm-up challenge to build a tower made up of shoes only. Listening Carefully to their volunteers, they found out about all the incredible work that goes on at Mott MacDonald as they interviewed the adults to find out about their different roles, responsibilities and the Essential Skills required to do their jobs. They also got the chance to go on a tour of the open office space and saw the great variety of jobs available in the world of construction.

Back in the room, the student teams took on the role of Developers and were challenged to apply their Problem Solving skills straight away. They needed to establish on which site to build a new tall building. Taking the location and needs of the community on board, teams then worked against the clock to build their tower using limited materials. During the build, the teams’ Staying Positive skills were put to the test as they had to organise themselves to finish in time.

The day culminated in teams pitching their plan for development to the judges in a buzzing trade fair. The judges asked questions to the aspiring developers in order to decide who had shown off their Essential Skills the most. All teams displayed such great teamwork and creativity that it made it really difficult for the adults to pick a winning team. Everyone worked so hard that the adults decided each team should be awarded a special certificate back at school for the one essential skill they’ve excelled in today.

What they said:

  • “I think the children have gained in teamwork skills today. The volunteers from Mott MacDonald were very friendly and it was good that there were flexibilities to adapt the day to us.” – Teacher
  • “Those skills that you are learning are so important for the future because whatever you do, you’ll always need to work in a team and you’ll always need the creativity (…)” – Volunteer
  • “I liked the task, it’s quite well set.” – Volunteer
  • “And this was a really good introduction to engineering for kids: it covered quite a lot.” – Volunteer
  • “They were very forward-thinking, too. I was impressed, especially for their age.” – Volunteer
  • “It was good fun! Can we not do this for the rest of the day?” – Volunteer
  • “We are the best team because we used everyone’s ideas to make this tall tower. And we also fixed it when it wouldn’t stand, so we’re great at Problem Solving too!” – Student
  • “The bit I liked the best was building our tower all together because it was really fun!” – 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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