Young Enterprise

4 May 2015

The Young Enterprise Scheme at Oxford High School, running here since 1989, is where girls in Year 12 set up and run a business for a year. They learn how to write Business Plans and Company Reports, producing, selling and marketing products in school and the wider world.

Our Young Enterprise students have written children’s books, a student guide to Oxford and a teenage survival guide. They have produced hand-drawn prints of Oxford, a CD of local bands, bat boxes, a revision aid box, diaries, wristbands and have developed a bar-code system for dealing with out-of-date food in supermarkets. One group designed an environmental board game, ”Mission Earth”, the concept of which they have sold to Gibsons Games, who have produced 10 000 of them, available in leading shops. Another group has sold bracelets, another offered musically-based services and a third has designed leather and batik bags and have imported the finished products from India and Indonesia.

Recently, a group produced highly innovative cookbooks with QR codes. Since then they have reformed their company and have negotiated a deal with the Mid-Counties Co-Op to sell 8000 copies in total. They also entered a separate national competition designed for graduates where they reached the national finals and won the audience vote for the best company. Most recently, students have designed epipen bags and also designed a 3D language learning game that they have been aiming to sell in China in Mandarin.

Throughout the last 17 years, all of the groups have been brilliantly mentored by Graham Varney, a local businessman. Graham was awarded the Young Enterprise South East Business Adviser of the Year in 2008 and the National Business Adviser of the Year in 2010. His advice and belief in setting no limits on the potential of our girls have enabled them to demonstrate their impressive business acumen.

Groups have made pitches to a national board game company, several national supermarkets, negotiated deals in Indonesia, India and China, as well as in the UK, have held a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels and dealt with issues involving intellectual property, patents and exchange rate risk. They have pitched to national companies and sold internationally. They have even hired a real live owl to help with their marketing of their children’s book.

They have been featured in articles in the Oxford Mail, Oxford Times, the Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and the Guardian and on Central News and Reuters Television. In the last 15 years at Oxford High School there have been 28 Young Enterprise companies, involving 355 sixth form students, which have, between them, won 94 Young Enterprise awards at local, county, regional and national level. This year, there are 24 students, in 2 companies in Year 12. Of the last 13 Oxfordshire Finals’ winners, 11 have been from Oxford High School. Of these, 6 have gone on to win the South East competition, progressing to the national finals. In 2011, we came third nationally, out of more than 2200 participating companies across the UK.

All of the girls have developed team work and public speaking skills and develop the confidence to take a risk. Many have gained employment in later life purely because of the scheme. They have also given back to our school community, mentoring Year 9 and Year 11. Young Enterprise is just one of the many extra-curricular activities on offer in our flourishing Sixth Form. As the Tatler recently said, Oxford High School “remains a remarkably unpressured environment in which to succeed”. This is as true of the business education on offer, through Young Enterprise, at Oxford High School, in the Sixth Form, as it is of our academic success.

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