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Eco-Friendly Enterprise Gives Students A Taste Of Real-Life Business

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Members of the Somercotes Academy Young Enterprise Team who have set up their own eco-friendly enterprise, GreenFutureSA.

Students in North Somercotes have set up their own eco-friendly enterprise recycling old scaffold boards and plastic into saleable products.

GreenFutureSA has already made over £250 in sales of chopping boards, phone holders, wine and gin boards, and now Valentine’s hearts and key rings.

The students are all in Years 9 and 10 at Somercotes Academy and they spend their lunch breaks and evenings coming up with ideas for products, manufacturing them at school in their own time, and selling them online on their instagram page.

They are taking part in the Young Enterprise Scheme, which teaches young people about life beyond the classroom in a practical environment. By setting up and managing their own business, the students learn about money management, hands-on production skills, and teamwork in a real-life context. 

This is the first time the Academy has taken part in the Young Enterprise Scheme, and Curriculum Leader for Design Technology, Venexia Ashton-Wood is very proud of the students’ commitment to the scheme. 

She said: “They are doing really well working together as a team. Some of the quieter students have really come out of their shells. They took part in an online Dragon’s Den meet recently and all of the students spoke up and they got really good feedback because of that.

“The scaffold boards are donated by local company Altrad and the students come up with the ideas for products to make from them.

“They will ask me if it is viable to make a certain product in school and if we do come across any obstacles then they will problem solve and find ways around them. For instance, with chopping boards, at first we were not sure we could use them, but the children researched food safe materials and then ordered food safe wax, which meant the boards could then be used for food.

“This scheme is benefiting the children massively. They are so much more confident and able to talk in front of other people. They are also learning lots of skills in the workshop which has helped in their product design work in Technology. They can use the laser cutter, the router, and the sander, and when they make a mistake they can problem solve that without needing my help as much, so it is also nice to see them developing their independence.

“It is also helping them to understand how modern business works through social media. The students are using all of their TikTok and Instagram skills learned in lockdown to sell products because they recognise that that is the best way for businesses to showcase their products and make money. The team also has a Young Enterprise stall online.”

Year 10 student Poppy Green (15) is the Manager of Green FutureSA and is working alongside her fellow students to create a successful business enterprise.

“I am learning so much about running a business,” she explained. “My aim is to become a businesswoman and I am learning skills in finance and how to manage a team.”

Reece Grant (Year 9) is working in production. He said: “We all get together to brainstorm ideas for the products and then we come up with the best way of making them. It is definitely helping me to learn more design skills and I am really enjoying it.”

Year 10 student Katie Rigley (14) is in charge of social media and produces TikTok videos and Instagram posts to sell the products on their instagram page, GreenFutureSA. 

“It is going well so far. We are increasing our Instagram followers and one of our TikTok videos has now had over 1,500 views,” she said.

“We are all enjoying this and we have some events coming up. We will be taking part in a beach clean at Cleethorpes to collect plastic for new products and we also plan to have a stall at Freeman Street Market next month to sell our products.”

Year 10 Somercotes Academy student Ben Funnell sands down an old scaffold board which he is turning into a chopping board.

Above and below: Reece Grant (Year 9) and Jack Clark (Year 10) make products in the Design and Technology Department at Somercotes Academy as part of the Green FutureSA Young Enterprise team.

Year 10 students, Katie Rigley (14), Lucy Oliver (15), Poppy Green (15) and Indiana Spence (15) showcase some of their eco-friendly Young Enterprise products with their teacher Mrs Venexia Ashton-Wood (Curriculum Leader for Design Technology) at Somercotes Academy.

Year 9 students Sienna Bugg, left, and Liberty Hartshorne use the bench drill to make their eco-friendly products at Somercotes Academy.

One of the products made by the students from old scaffold boards. 

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Somercotes Academy Principal

Frances Green