Grace Young leads the communications for Enabling Enterprise and regularly goes on business trips to support the students. She went on the first trip of the year to Exterion Media in Camden and here she shares her story.

As the academic year gets into full swing, many schools across the country are starting enterprise projects. To capture the excitement I went on Enabling Enterprise’s first business trip to the advertising agency, Exterion Media with one of our partner schools Curwen Primary.

After chatting with Karen Landles, the Behaviour Insight Director at Exterion Media to find out how they’re supporting students’ skills development I witnessed Curwen Primary take on an enterprise challenge – to plan a celebration event for employees of Exterion Media. It was a day filled with new experiences, exciting opportunities and a few funny moments. Here’s how it all panned out.

How Exterion Media are supporting schools

‘Did you know that all the adverts on public buses or on the London underground are put there by Exterion Media?’ asked Karen Landles as we walked along the corridor of their central London offices. As the largest Out of Home advertising agencies in the UK, Exterion Media have a strong presence and a growing team. They’re also business partners with Enabling Enterprise and host trips for schools. Each term, students tour the offices, interview employees and work on an enterprising challenge. Today marked their fourth business trip for schools and Curwen Primary from Newham were their lucky guests.

After settling into the room, I asked Karen what value she sees in hosting the business trips and what it can add to the students’ learning. ‘Bringing the students to businesses helps them think about the different opportunities available to them in the future,’ she said with great enthusiasm, ‘our employees see it as such a worthwhile thing to do.’ What’s so powerful is that these trips support their enterprise work in lesson time, giving their learning a real life relevance too.

Enterprise in action with Curwen Primary

A hubbub of excitement filled the corridors as twenty students from Curwen Primary arrived at Exterion Media. After splitting into teams they were swiftly introduced to their task – to plan a celebration event for all employees of Exterion Media. The focus of the day would be teamwork and problem solving and with many tasks to complete before the end of the day, there was little time to waste.

Advice from the experts

When planning an event of this scale some words of wisdom would go down a treat. Well, the students were just in luck as Laura from the events team did this task for her actual job and was eager to share her expertise, ‘I organise and run the employee awards event every year called The Big Thank You. We hold a ceremony to reward employees who go the extra mile’.

Several other Exterion Media employees from a range of departments joined the teams, eager to give advice and share insight into the jobs they do. John from the Operations could help out with the logistics of the day and Laura from the Marketing team could give advice on how to promote the event. Ollie and Karen from the Behavioural Insight team also joined the students. ‘What is behavioural insight?’ asked one inquisitive student, ‘my job is to know what an audience is thinking so I can advertise to them,’ responded Ollie, ‘if I wanted to stop people eating crisps, I won’t just say ‘stop eating crisps’, but I might use words of pictures to encourage people not to eat them’.

Working in teams to achieve success

To plan an outstanding celebration event at Exterion Media, Curwen Primary would have to show excellent teamwork skills and put their best ideas together. To get some inspiration they took a tour of the offices, considering how many people the event should cater for and any colour schemes they might incorporate. After Karen told them, ‘we hold this event every year so that people feel good about being here and are valued as employees’ the teams knew they had to impress.

One team noticed that the Exterion Media offices were fun and informal, with some people in casual dress and the funny cartoons on the wall. As a team they decided to keep up the fun image and have a Las Vegas themed awards event, ‘we will have a casino and an arcade, everyone will wear fancy dress and laugh at the hilarious comedians.’

Solving problems and overcoming challenges

Back in the boardroom, the teams got down to planning their day and before long a few critical problems cropped up. With a restricted budget, how would the teams afford everything they wanted? The ‘Four Aces’ Team wanted to have a Disney themed ceremony, held in a castle with an enchanted stair case as a special feature while ‘Media Enterprise’ Team wanted to have an extravagant masquerade theme. While creativity was in no short supply, money was! To stick to a smaller budget, both teams decided to downsize their events and ask that people contribute for tickets. As one ‘Media Enterprise’ team member announced, ‘we are going for quality over quantity’.

Presenting to a panel of judges

With ideas finalised and budgets drawn up, the teams were ready to create a winning pitch to a panel of judges, eager to win the best awards event. Hints and tips were shared by the employees as the preparations went underway. Laura, who gives presentations every week in her marketing role encouraged the students to be ‘confident and make eye contact’. Watching closely as the teams prepared, their class teacher said ‘It was great that each member had to take part which was great to keep everybody engaged’.

After a ‘lights, camera, action’ each team walked to the front. Team ‘Presenting 5’ shared their ideas in a clear and confident manner, and as John said, ‘they had a strong introduction and really engaged with the audience’. The ‘Blue Positive Sharks’ revealed their fashion show theme and wowed the audience, assuring that it would be an ‘extremely extraordinary and super fun event’.

Following the last presentation, the judges went outside to deliberate. On their return silence filled the room. Karen took centre stage, ‘the winners are…The Blue Positive Sharks’.

The final word

After a day of enterprise learning, Curwen Primary proved themselves as top quality events planners. Ollie agreed that ‘the children were all really engaged in their task’ and John simply stated, ‘weren’t they all great?’

The students and teachers agreed that the day would not have been possible without the employees from Exterion Media who gave up their time to support the students in their task. The class teacher said ‘the way the volunteers make the students feel valued was beautiful to see’.

If you’d like to find out about how you can link the world of work with your classroom just like Curwen Primary School or to become one of our business partners then please contact us.

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