Thursday 08 November 2012

Enterprise final: 'Support for us has been astounding'

In the second of our Enterprise Challenge final Q&As, St Michael's RC School give their views

St Michael's School (L-R): Olivia Shovlin, Amy Buck, Elish Chambers, Max Bover, Joe Buck

Entrepreneurial youngsters from across the country will do battle on Tuesday 13 November in the final of this year's Premier League Enterprise Challenge at the Westminster Conference Centre.

Six schools, representing Norwich City, Middlesbrough, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool, will try to impress the judges and assembled dignitaries with their business ideas and solutions for improving customer service for fans on matchdays.

The Year 9-11 youngsters will have to present a business plan as well as their pitch to a panel of judges, with one team being crowned 2012 Enterprise Challenge winners.

Ahead of the contest next Tuesday, premierleague.com asked the competitors their thoughts about the Challenge and how it has helped them as students. The second part of our series hears from a school that won through from the second semi-final in Newcastle.

St Michael's RC School - Middlesbrough

Teacher: Patricia Carroll, Whole School Raising Achievement Coordinator
Students: Olivia Shovlin, Max Bover, Joe Buck, Amy Buck, Elish Chambers

How did you get involved?

Patricia Carroll: I am constantly looking for ways to get our students to aim high and reach their true potential. As a school, we have a wide range of talents amongst our students and we seize every opportunity that comes our way to develop these young people and prepare them for the world of work. Middlesbrough Enterprise team have worked with us for years on delivering Enterprise days and more recently delivering NCFE Enterprise Capabilities to some of our Y11 students. So when they sent details of the competition, I thought, 'This is an amazing idea from the Premier League Enterprise team, we have got to take part'.  

How did you get the idea for your pitch?

Elish Chambers: After surveying many of our peers, we got together as a team to collaborate our own experiences of stadium events. We discussed attending events at Newcastle Metro Arena, the Sage and even further afield, as three of the team had attended the Olympics in London and I had attended a Yankees baseball match in the USA. We then reviewed the difficulties we faced at these events and how we could overcome them, which led to us picking our ideas.

What is it like to have made the final?

Patricia Carroll: I have seen our team flourish throughout the competition. They have had some amazing opportunities so far, winning through the first round to compete against another 10 teams at Newcastle was the first highlight. Then to be judged one of six finalists from 19 to compete in London when they were the youngest team in the competition caused such excitement. Preparing for the finals has made them competent reporters and presenters, astute financiers, creative thinkers and, most of all, they are an exciting team to work with and they believe in their Business. It's a fantastic opportunity!

What have you done to prepare for the final since you made it through from the semis?

Joe Buck and Max Bover: We have filmed extra footage for our video and improved its standard overall. We have practised our pitch and completed our Business Plan. We have had a trial run of one of our products and used our findings to modify it. One of our team members, Elish, visited a Middlesbrough match and interviewed the fans and some executives.

What do you feel this competition has done for the members of your team/your school/personally?

Joe Buck and Max Bover: It has given us the confidence and skills to perform well in school and help us with our GCSEs. Some of us also want to become part of the next generation of entrepreneurs. Our school has enjoyed the publicity and are happy for another chance to be on the national map. Max has grown more confident in his daily school life and I would like to start my own business in the near future. We have all certainly enjoyed this taster of the world of work.

How much are you looking forward to it?

Max Bover and Joe Buck: We are very excited to go to London and take part in the final. If we had to rate our excitement out of 10 it would have 10+. Joe is looking forward to presenting the ideas that we have to offer. I am looking forward to the challenge and experience of the final.

How has the school helped you with this project?

Olivia Shovlin: St Michael's have been very supportive. The staff have given their time and valuable advice and we have even been supported by a school governor who has her own business. Other members of staff have provided us with technical support when we were creating our videos and using equipment. The encouragement we have received has been fantastic, the enthusiasm from not just the staff but the pupils has been overwhelming, and we have been astounded by this support for us. We have been given plenty of time to rehearse our plans and pitches. PR has ensured that our success has been publicised in the North East media.

How has the club helped you?

Amy Buck: The club has been extremely supportive throughout this whole experience, from answering our questions to developing our understanding of the football industry. They also gave us the chance to take a tour of the stadium and kindly provided us with tickets to one of Middlesbrough's matches where we interviewed some of the executives of the club's sponsors.

What elements of business studies have you learnt?

Elish Chambers: None of us actually take BTEC Business Studies as we are all in Year 9 but I think through this challenge, we have learned many aspects that are essential to running a business. It is important to be creative; you need a product that people want to buy into. Businesses do not work in isolation, there are many aspects where collaboration is the key to success - very much like football - it needs the team to pull together to deliver on its promises.

What advice would you give other students/teachers thinking of taking part in the challenge?

Patricia Carroll: Research is vital; you need to know what the fans want and what is feasible and also profitable. The club that you are representing has a wealth of knowledge of what has been tried and what works so make sure you use this expertise. Believe in your ideas. Learn from the world of business, be prepared to make that phone call to the right stakeholders and find out what has worked for them. You need to work as a team but it is necessary to delegate and to make sure that everyone knows what their role is. Be prepared for the judges' questions.

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Key Points

  • 2012 Premier League Enterprise Challenge Final takes place next week
  • Six schools from across the country are taking part
  • We have asked the students what they think of the competition