Developing business skills Apprentice-style – Thomas Tallis School

Key features

  • Business studies residential with Year 12 students
  • Use of university halls of residence
  • Student ownership of learning

Year 12 Business Studies students from Thomas Tallis School in Greenwich took part in a three-day intensive ‘Apprentice-style’ residential during July 2013, as part of the school’s Learning Away programme. Slightly less glamorous than the TV version, with a somewhat more limited budget… but no less exciting!

The group of 12 students stayed in halls of residence at the London School of Economics for three days in July, and split into three teams to complete challenging business-related tasks each day.  A different student leader was selected to take charge of each project, which incorporated tasks integral to the business world, involving:

  • research and marketing
  • finance
  • product design
  • presentation.

In true Apprentice style, and to encourage students to take full ownership of the tasks, teachers were banned from helping and instead spent their days observing teams in order to give detailed feedback after each task. This allowed the students to take full ownership of their learning and work independently. Although a winning team was announced each day, there was no Alan Sugar-style firing!  These days were experiences that the school wanted everyone to be around for and learn from.

The culmination of the three-day residential was a presentation to members of Greenwich Council (in the Town Hall) to put forward each team’s ideas for the regeneration and rebranding of Woolwich, in South East London – an area badly affected by riots in the summer of 2011. Students were asked to put forward ways to stimulate growth in the area and attract new business to the town, supporting their ideas with feedback gathered from consumers and retailers. These activities, carried out during a residential, were very motivating. As one student explained:

“I liked the whole market research thing. Usually if it was to be in a classroom, you would just sit there on a computer doing research, but because it was a residential trip we got to go and ask the public and then pitch it to people. It was really motivating.”

Year 12 student, Thomas Tallis School

The students on the residential not only thoroughly enjoyed the three days, but also clearly learned a great deal from it. They recognised that they had developed teamwork skills through collaborating together on specific tasks within set time limits, discussing ideas and reaching collective decisions. Winning was definitely important, but the students also got a boost in self-confidence from the teachers’ feedback, and from working in their teams. This was a fantastic motivator as they wanted to do well for their team as a whole.  They named presentations as the scariest of their tasks, but one from which they got huge confidence – particularly once they’d got to know people in their group and felt comfortable with them.

All of the students recognised that the skills gained – such as negotiation, leadership and presentation skills – would be beneficial to their current course of studies, and beyond school when entering higher education or employment. Being able to talk to people you don’t know with confidence came out of the most important factor that the students said they will take forward into Year 13 and beyond.

“Before I went on this trip I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do…in the business environment. Afterwards I decided I want to pursue the world of business marketing, so it definitely helped me make my choice!”

Year 12 student, Thomas Tallis School

 

The school also ran a similar residential in 2014, which also involved Year 12 photography students who documented one of the days and exhibited a selection of photographs at Greenwich Professional Development Centre.  You can view their photography here.