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Daily Telegraph – Promising futures for young talent

Education is about more than equipping students with the skills to pass exams successfully.

Education is about more than equipping students with the skills to pass exams successfully, inspired schemes can help to nurture young talent, says Helena Pozniak.

Initiatives such as the respected Young Enterprise (YE), aimed at forging links between education and business, are usually extra-curricular. But many sixth-formers sign up with enthusiasm, especially this year when YE is supporting e-commerce projects for the first time.

“After the age of 16, students realise they need to broaden their experiences and YE is a great way to do this,” says Jon Whitehouse, who coordinates the scheme at St Peter’s School, York.

“A little bit of self-belief is necessary to make things happen, and it helps students realise that they can create and sell a product.”
As well as an innovative idea, teams need time, energy and determination, adds Whitehouse. His students are mentored by a local design business and have come up with products such as recycled designer bags embellished with old clock parts.

This year a team even attended a trade fair in Sweden. “The students are quite mature,” says Owen Turner, creative director of United by Design, who mentors the St Peter’s teams. “They learn from any setbacks and challenges, and are stronger for them,” he says.

As well as building life skills, cutting their teeth in business gives students plenty to talk about in personal statements for university, job applications and CVs. And when your school project ends up being worn by David Beckham, you know you’ve made it.

Sixth-former Polly Goodman, 17, from Berkshire all-girls boarding school Downe House, is managing director of a cult headwear brand. The beanie hats produced by her young enterprise team have graced several celebrity heads, including that of the former England captain.
Despite the team’s success — the project, featured in Vogue, came third out of 2,000 UK entries — Goodman still wants to go to university.
“Each of us now has an acute appreciation of teamwork,” she says. “For young people in business, it’s largely a case of putting yourself out there and combining that with a willingness to commit to some hard work.”

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