Last year I participated in the Junior Entrepreneur Programme with my 5th & 6th Class. Having loved mini-company in Transition Year myself I was eager to see what this entailed for 5th & 6th.
Having signed up online and completing an online module about the course, we were ready to start and my JEP pack arrived in the post. It contains everything you will need for the programme including a copy of the worksheets for each pupil. You start by exploring what an entrepreneur is and recognising entrepreneurs in your local area (Geog). We then looked at the qualities an entrepreneur needs (SPHE).
Children were then invited to come up with their own product idea that could be made within our school. They then presented them to their group and groups had to negotiate one product for Dragons Den. This was great fun and allowed other members of staff to become involved. Each group presented their idea to the dragons, they had to prepare presentations (ICT & English Writing) and a sample product and the dragons could then ask questions or seek clarification. The Winning Idea became our Big Idea!!
One of the dragons was an entrepreneur himself who then returned to chat to the class about his own business and his role as an entrepreneur. The class loved this, they got to hear specific terms relating to marketing and finance and also got the opportunity to seek advice about their own product.
The class then split into groups focusing on finance, market research, production, story telling and sales. Each member of the class had to identify their personal strengths and strengths of their peers which would be important in the different teams.
Next we conducted market research, probably one of the best ways to explore data, tally graphs and pie charts in 5th & 6th as it was all real life and relevant to them if they wanted to increase their profit margin. We created an online survey for parents (English Writing) and a small survey in other classes. Groups were then given the time to analyse the research.
Next step was finance, where to get the money.As a group we agreed to look at the idea of a loan from the principal. The project managers agreed to schedule a meeting with her and discuss financing our project. With some negotiations we agreed on a 12.5% return on our Sales. (Again percentages and fractions were not an issue as it was all relevant to them).
Once we reached an agreement it was time to begin taking orders and going into production. This was very exciting and our character trait of perseverance was put to the test as our Showcase day loomed. But we got there and the class were delighted to watch the sales go and the profits come in.
We then put our profits towards the cost of our school tour.
Sounds like a lot but over the course of the programme it was spread out apart from production but that was due to the high volume of orders.
As a teacher was I stressed?
At times, yes, but my class and I, along with support from some staff members, really worked hard as a group to get there.
Was it worth it?
Definitely, my class really bonded throughout the project and became a much more cohesive group. I was totally new to this age group last year but JEP definitely helped me to get to know my class and to build positive relationships and atmosphere in the classroom. Their knowledge and language relating to business and marketing was amazing at the end too. They were overheard discussing their marketing strategy on the way home from school.
Did it take up lots of classroom time?
Not really, it can be integrated across so many curricular areas easily and I changed my timetable slightly to allow for set JEP time (20 mins) each week.It did mean taking a few mins here and there from other subjects. But it also avoided lots of chats in the middle of other lessons. I also explained to the class about using their own time wisely, over time team meetings were scheduled out on yard at break times.
Would I sign up again?
I hope to. Leaving out the stress and panic of the production stage I really enjoyed it! I learned so much from it too that I can change and apply to the next project.
Keep on top of your JEP folder, encourage the class to take as much responsibility as they can. They will rise to the challenge. Have a camera to hand to document everything. My storytelling team documented the project using video clips and slideshows. Have fun.
If you have any questions on JEP send me a PM.