Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Squeeze of Enterprise

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Squeeze of Enterprise

Article excerpt

Primary pupils learn about business by selling lemonade

Recent articles about teenage internet entrepreneurs left me wondering at what age children could grasp the idea of a business plan. Were my eight- and nine-year-old pupils too young to understand entrepreneurship?

The question became increasingly relevant when my school received funding for a two-year Comenius project (bit.ly/ ComeniusInfo) with the ambitious title "Europe's Got Talent: how to succeed in the world of work". Was this a chance to explore business ideas for younger students?

At an initial meeting with teachers from partner schools in Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Turkey, we all agreed to talk to our nearest universities to see if they ran outreach programmes that could help us to bring the project title to life. My school approached University College London (UCL), which told us about an initiative it had set up called Citrus Saturday. Developed by UCL Advances, the university's centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction, the project's aim was to teach enterprise skills to young people by providing schools and youth clubs with the resources to set up stalls selling lemonade.

When I phoned Jack Wratten, who manages Citrus Saturday, and told him the age of my students, he said that they would be his youngest ever entrepreneurs. But he was enthusiastic about giving it a go. He insisted that we follow the rules of the initiative: the stalls had to be outside school boundaries and the children would get to keep the profits. Jack provided preparatory videos and workbooks so that my students could devise a business plan and marketing strategies.

I set aside a couple of maths lessons, in which we worked out the cost of one drink, scaled it up by 100, thought of an appropriate price for the lemonade, predicted our revenue and calculated the expected profits. The children collaborated in four mixed-ability groups, putting each others' talents to the best use.

Each group thought of a twist on the beverage: old-fashioned lemonade, pink lemonade, strawberry lemonade, and ginger and mint lemonade. And we included some literacy work on persuasive texts by preparing posters and typing up flyers. Many of the children did extra work at home, coming up with musical jingles, banners and other innovative ideas for grabbing customers' attention.

When the day dawned, there was a huge buzz of excitement. One mother told me that her son had hardly slept. We set off for the UCL campus, where Jack and some Citrus Saturday volunteers helped us to set up shop in four different places. The children squeezed and mixed, sang and cajoled. After a couple of hours, our stalls had made more than £400. …

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