In 2013, the Thomas Tallis School Business Apprentice residential returned for a third year running, with thirteen selected students embarking on a three-day epic journey full of challenging entrepreneurial tasks. Working in groups, students were set a daily task which required them to plan, strategise, research and deliver comprehensive presentations to various judges with vast amounts of business experience in some of London’s iconic buildings.
Throughout the experience, the students were challenged to work with others, lead, manage, think ‘outside the box’, gather vital research from members of the public and effectively manage their time in order to meet tight deadlines. Students were far from the comfort zone of their classroom, as expert judges awaited their pitch in the boardroom at the end of each day.
Students took part in a variety of tasks:
- A calendar task: to create a calendar for a specific charity
- A branding task: to brand a bottle of mineral water for specific target audience
- A development task: to set up an educational science club for primary school children based at the Science Museum.
The great thing about this residential was that each of the three days provided an opportunity for the students to work on improving their skills. At school, students have a set timetable each day and move on from different units and different subjects hour by hour. This residential allowed them to work in greater depth over a long period of time, reflect immediately on how they had performed, receive feedback from business experts and then work on things over the next 24 hours in order to be better prepared for the next day’s task and presentation.
Another key factor that made this such a valuable learning experience was the fact that it was a residential experience. The students involved were able to fully focus on the daily tasks without any other distractions. This gave them opportunities to discuss and reflect on the day’s proceedings, which in some instances required rebuilding of bridges between students. These valuable processes and experiences would have been too easily lost (or avoided) had the students returned home each day.
Impact on one student
Student A was hard working and polite. Over the months before the residential she was often in the classroom after school and at lunch time in order to complete her work, but she lacked a great deal of confidence. We believed that the Business Apprentice residential would be a fantastic opportunity to build on her potential management and leadership skills, and extend her comfort zone.
It took a number of conversations with various teachers and previous Business Apprentice trip students to convince her to take part and even then it was not a 100% whole-hearted “Yes, I can’t wait to go”. By agreeing to go, though, she had taken that first key step in challenging herself and acknowledging that it would be an opportunity for her to develop.
On Day 1 she was in a group of four vocal students, but none of them were natural leaders, and it was therefore encouraging to see that she put herself forward to be the team leader. This role meant that immediately she would be thrust into the spotlight and have full responsibility for the potential failure of the group’s performance. Although both the group and presentation were well organised, unfortunately they did not win that day’s ‘challenge’, but it was still a step in the right direction for student A. She had begun to realise that she could put herself forward, lead and manage others.
Day 2 saw even more improvements in her confidence; not just through the delivering of presentations to business experts, but also through social interactions with other students. She commented on the fact that she had been thinking of not going on the trip, but was glad she came.
In her reflections on the three days after we had returned to school, student A spoke about the increase in her confidence, stating that this was entirely due to the fact that she was given the opportunity to go on the Business Apprentice residential. She had needed to push herself out of her comfort zone and, by doing so, she realised that there were no negative and many positive outcomes.
Since the trip, student A has led on delivering a Personal and Business Finance taster session to new Year 11 students as they came to choose their options for the next twelve months. This involved her and another peer teaching two 35 minute sessions to groups of between eight and 14 students. She would never have had the confidence to do this before she went on the residential.
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.