The 2016 Global Enterprise Challenge shows that when it comes to sharing good practice, schools do it best
Judging started this week for the remarkable 2016 Global Enterprise Challenge, a "startup" event for primary schools, which has stimulated six months of creative classroom work by 715 pupil "edupreneurs" (some of them secondary) in 20 schools across 15 countries. Children collaborate and compete as they form their own companies to design, develop and market their own products.
And it's all been created and organised by teachers and pupils in a rural Devon community, at Broadclyst Community Primary School.
Innovative with ICT for two generations
To say that Broadclyst punches above its weight is an understatement (see “Broadclyst champions innovation at own global event”). It has a reputation for curriculum innovation with ICT that reaches back through two generations of management. And it will soon open a new free school – created on the same ethics of inclusion and innovation – for a neighbouring community.
The challenge grew from the school's success in an international education event in Barcelona two years ago (see “Broadclyst scoops $25,000 at Microsoft's 'The Pitch’”). The school invested its 'winnings' in extending the project to schools worldwide and in taking representatives of the first winners on a trip to meet Microsoft in Seattly.
This week the judges are wading through all the 'evidence' generated by all that learning. Because it's mainly digital it can virtually all be wrapped up in a OneNote notebook, one of the preferred media for the event, so it can be viewed on virtually any device or platform.
As you would expect there are masses of design briefs, business plans, balance sheets, articles, presentations, artwork, photos and videos to whittle down the shortlist to decide on the three leading schools. They will be announced on April 25.
Headteacher Jonathan Bishop has been delighted by the response to the second round of the challenge. "It has been very exciting to see that the children participating in this second year of the GEC are achieving even higher standards than last year," he commented. "Their innovative, entrepreneurial ideas and the quality of their products have been phenomenal as they strive to make their team the most successful.
"I have been very impressed, in particular, with the different ideas they’ve come up with to market their products – from online order forms and TV commercials to text messaging their families and using good, traditional hard sales techniques to customers at sales events!"
Nothing stands still at Broadclyst
Nothing stands still at Broadclyst however. Tomorrow, April 15, it hosts Redefining Learning, sponsored by Microsoft, to share experiences of enriching learning and teaching through the use of technology.It can be accessed via Skype. And earlier in the week, again with the involvement of the teaching school it is a partner in, Cornerstones, it ran a special event for leaders and governors of primary, secondary and special schools on starting their own multi-academy trusts, or developing a strategy for joining others (Broadclyst was one of the very first primary academies).
This year, Mark Sparvell, senior manager of worldwide education at Microsoft, is a GEC judge once again. “Entrepreneurship is about the desire to solve problems creatively,” he says. “The exciting thing about the Global Enterprise Challenge is that it helps young people develop an entrepreneurial mindset that results in creativity, innovation and growth – not only for kick-starting businesses and making profits, but also for achieving social change and driving innovation.”
He has his work cut out with the other judges (including this website) in a project that has such lofty ambitions of unlocking children's creativity with real-world learning for a global audience, and reaching into all areas of the curriculum to do that while opening up new vistas for entrepreneurial skills, economic awareness, communication, collaboration, creativity and problem solving skills through the use of technology. The amazing part of it is that the children actually do it, and drive it, developing fresh understandings of other cultures, world markets and their currencies
The student teams have spent the last six months developing, producing and marketing 10 products. They have pitched those products, competing with each other to become the most successful global company. Each week the project co-ordinator posts a global 'profit and loss' account for each international company to the challenge leaderboard. The most profitable international company is determined through rankings based on their accounts.
The winning team will be chosen by the Dragons based on criteria that includes profitability, learning insights, collaboration and sustainability. All the work is done using Microsoft Office365 technology.
“As the GEC comes to a close, we are happy and excited that the students could undertake this beautiful journey in addition to their academic curriculum,” says teacher Gulfisha Ansari, from Mumbai, India. “It was heartening to receive positive response and co-operation from the parents of the participants”.
Broadclyst's Jonathan Bishop concludes: "The tools offered by Microsoft Office 365 have powered this purposeful collaboration and creativity among all the children, who have made group conference calls with Skype, presented ideas with Sway, and shared and voted on them through Yammer instant messaging.
"The children, who reported nerves and apprehension – much as we all would – when facing the Dragon’s Den, showed enormous confidence in front of the judges as they worked to secure their investment funds.
"I’m delighted that the feedback we have received from teachers in the participating schools has emphasised the high level of engagement as well as the high quality of work that this style of learning delivers."