Midlothian school children have spent a day learning entrepreneurial skills with the help of experts from Edinburgh Innovations.
At the Enterprise Education day at Newbattle High School, 24 pupils in S5 and S6 researched real-world commercial and societal needs, generated ideas for businesses and social enterprises and developed them into Dragons’ Den-type business pitches.
“It’s been fantastic, giving the pupils a feel for the flow of idea generation and entrepreneurship, and exploring the idea of what a social enterprise is.”
– Depute Head Teacher Mark Davidson.
From road-building to anti-bullying
Through collaborative workshops, pupils spent the morning researching challenges that could be addressed through a new product or service, arriving at a series of business propositions to develop in groups.
The chosen enterprises included an app to combat bullying, a political news podcast, road construction using recycled plastic, a donations scheme for those affected by war in Yemen, and a cooling facemask to relieve headaches.
“The statistics we discovered when researching our idea have shocked us. The ideas we’ve come up with as a team for the first release of the app have been really good. I’ve never really thought about starting a business, so everything we did today was learning.”
– Jack Grieve, S6 student.
‘Young people’s passions’
The groups worked on pitching their businesses, as though facing potential investors, and the day culminated in each group giving its prepared pitch to the rest of the class.
“It’s heartening to hear young people’s passions,” said Mr Davidson. “Every pitch was looking at delivering some sort of social responsibility, or getting young people engaged in political life, or about the health and wellbeing of young people. It’s really good as adults to be in the room and see that positivity from young people.”
The day was part of a growing relationship between the University and Newbattle High School.
When the school’s new campus was opened in June 2018, it was designated Scotland’s first Digital Centre of Excellence through a partnership between the University and Midlothian Council. The school will work with universities, colleges and businesses to ensure its children are equipped with leading digital skills for the future workplace.
In September last year, the school hosted a data science workshop to launch the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation programme, which is being led by the University.
And a team from the University’s Moray House School of Education has recently hosted a Continuing Professional Development day for the school’s staff, focusing on its role as a Digital Centre of Excellence.