Dunoon Grammar School were presented with the prestigious JA European Entrepreneurial School Award 2019 at a glittering awards Ceremony in Helsinki, Finland on 16 October 2019 - the first time in the five-year history of the award that a Scottish school has received this continental recognition.
The Entrepreneurial School Awards recognise outstanding schools that are championing entrepreneurship in education across Europe, including the extent to which they involve the local community and business sector on entrepreneurial activity.
"Enterprise education is the catalyst to our school actively living our vision, to be at the heart of our community. Our young people are regularly immersed in a diverse range of rich, experiential enterprise activities within real and relevant contexts."
Entrepreneurial education is not a 'bolt-on', but at the core of all learning and teaching at the school and staff continuously strive to improve these experiences for all.
Many Enterprise initiatives are fully embedded as part of the formal curriculum adding significant value to provision as well as knowledge and skills development - this is supplemented by a range of extra-curricular opportunities.
"From the onset, the strategy was to ensure that enterprise was not a bolt-on, but integral to day-to-day learning and teaching. We didn't want it to be one-off activities, like bake sales, we had faith in our staff to find opportunities and fit with our curriculum. In time, staff have grown in confidence in offering truly enterprising experiences for the young people and our young people have grasped and flourished through these experiences.
We have been outward-looking and have been proactive in forging fruitful partnerships with local and national bodies. Our Business & Computing Department have been at the forefront of these developments and this European recognition is just reward for their often-pioneering work"
A dedicated Depute Head Teacher for Enterprise ensures that strategic plans are fully actioned. Supported by a Principal Teacher and Administrator of Enterprise, they work closely with staff and external partners to ensure quality of provision.
The Head Teacher leads by example - setting the tone by making Entrepreneurship a high priority in school improvement plans, being an active figurehead when activity is being undertaken - to provide support and encouragement.
Curriculum for Excellence continues to be a key catalyst - with the school empowered to design, develop and implement a curriculum to develop the four capacities in their young people.
Staff have the freedom and support to conceive, plan and implement enterprise activity - be it in day-to-day teaching or on a project basis. Collegiate time is also held regularly - allowing staff to meet and discuss enterprising learning. This has proven to be an invaluable forum for sharing ideas and practise.
Monthly tracking reports are completed, and pupils meet regularly with house teachers (tutor teachers) to discuss career options and support for these options. These discussions are entered centrally in SEEMIS and the pupils are supported by a team of Careers Scotland staff - based in the school.
This information is used to shape the curricular offer to particular year groups and to ensure effective pathways for each individual pupil. It also informs the provision of work experience opportunities.
Last session, 2018-19, saw a full stakeholder consultation take place in September through which learners, staff, parents/carers and partners were asked to identify the top three skills they felt were the most important to develop throughout the secondary journey in order to prepare young people for learning, life and work.
As a result of this consultation and a further one with staff slightly later in the year, we identified five skills organisers - Literacy, Numeracy, Social and Emotional, Leadership and Creativity - under which a range of skills sit. Enterprise, although not explicitly referenced through these organisers, is actually evident through a range of skills within each of the organisers. This in turn, I believe, allows for enterprise to grow organically, rather than perhaps being seen as an 'add on'.
Dunoon Grammar School is committed to ensuring young people are fully prepared to fulfil their future potential and be effective contributors to society. All staff deliver one-to-one careers interviews with our young people as part of our house-time and the school harnesses a variety of strategies to develop the young workforce. These include:
Working in partnership with the local tertiary education college - Argyll College - pupils are offered an alternative to the traditional certificated subject curricular path. Pupils can now elect to study a range of Skills for Work certificated courses on vocational curricular pathway. 140 pupils secured qualifications in 18 different courses this year. Courses available include hairdressing (in the school's own in-house salon), childcare, maritime engineering and creative digital media.
The school is dedicated to ensuring all young people participate on at least one work-based placement - in an industry that is of interest to them - prior to leaving the school. Placements can be in different shapes and sizes, to meet the needs of individual pupils. Many pupils work in a local business organisation one day a week for a full academic year, others select to participate in a one-week full time placement. Many others may select to work one afternoon a week for several months. This gives pupils a valuable insight into their chosen career as well as giving them valuable experience they can draw upon in the future.
All S2 and S4 pupils learn about the world of work and career opportunities during Personal and Social Education. They explore career opportunities using Skills Development Scotland's My World of Work online resources. This helps the young people have a greater appreciation of future opportunities open to them and to select future courses of study relevant to them.
Dunoon Grammar School devised its own work-based vocational learning programme as part of the school's commitment to developing the young workforce. The unique EXITE programme combines workplace learning opportunities with school-based employability courses, resulting in the young people involved achieving industry standard work qualifications - such as health and safety, food hygiene and lifting and handling certification. This programme has directly resulted in several pupils securing apprenticeships for life beyond Dunoon Grammar School.
The introduction of these DYW strategies has resulted in a 5% improvement in positive destinations for school leavers in the last four years. 93% of school leavers are in further education or employment compared to 88% four years ago.
Dunoon Grammar School ensures all young people enjoy a diverse range of enterprising learning experiences at all stages, in all subjects.
Departments have licence and empowerment to seek enterprising opportunities to fit with their curricular offering. Such opportunities are sourced by individual departments and teachers. This increases sense of ownership and fit which leads to improved chances for success - rather than being imposed to by senior leadership.
Enterprising approaches embedded as part of day-to-day learning and teaching activities, include:
The new S1 pupil intake work on a bridging project inspired by the TV show Dragon's Den. This starts during a transitions week in June and the young people complete the project when they return as full time pupils of Dunoon Grammar School. Pupils, working in groups, must design a new product to present to others. During this task they discuss rival products, unique selling points, logos and slogans, advertising campaigns and branding. This task incorporates numeracy and IT skills as pupils are asked to budget and create a 3D mock-up of their product. The pupils present their idea to the class and each class forward one group on to the Grand Final which takes place in front of local business people
As part of the school's ongoing link with partner Canadian schools, pupils take part in a continuous cycle of fundraising activities. Pupils are the driving force behind these and have organised large scale events and have over the years raised more than £10,000. They routinely liaise with local businesses and the wider-Gaelic network of partners to meet their fundraising targets. Through this, pupils have learned about advertising, planning events, handling money and working as a team.
Every year, S4 pupils from the department visit PG Paper Ltd in Greenock. This company was started by Poonam Gupta in her house and now turns over £50 million p.a. Sitting in the boardroom and learning about the business helps bring home the relevance of trading and enterprise to the pupils and the importance of Modern Languages to international trade.All S3 Modern Languages pupils are presented for an SQA Award (Languages for Life and Work). This includes a unit called Building Own Employability Skills, which is done in English but links to the Work unit which is done in French/ German.
The department regularly has visiting speakers, including former pupils, who motivate pupils by sharing their experiences and achievements, often in the world of work. Recently this included a visit from Rose Reilly (former international footballer and world cup winner) who spoke about moving abroad to pursue her career, learning Italian and the qualities which you should aim to build (determination, resilience, patience etc.).
The school offers an eclectic and diverse range of extra-curricular opportunities to all young people. From arts and crafts to Star Wars - there are rich, fun and engaging informal openings for the young people to work in teams, be creative and learn skills relevant to life and work. The young engineering clubs involved the young people building high-spec remote control cars to race around the school playground. The press and media club offer inspiring journalists the opportunity to write press releases that are published weekly in the local newspaper and press. School shows and charity events are run by pupils, who are responsible for promoting, selling tickets, merchandising and refreshments as a rich enterprise experience. Pupils are also heavily involved in filming, editing and producing the school's weekly vlog - DGS This Week.
The whole-school approach to pupil behaviour management centres on ensuring our young people are evolving skills that will make them effective and considerate contributors to future enterprise. The approach is not just to focus on rules for school but skills for the world of work, linking what is taught on an everyday basis with skills for future employment. Pupils are encouraged to up-skill in areas they need to develop to make themselves employable. All pupils are taught this and reminded of this at the start of every term to maintain its relevance. Pupils displaying positive behaviours are rewarded regularly throughout the year.
Pupils meet regularly with their House Time teacher on a one-to-one basis to discuss their skills development linked to their future career progression. All pupils, from S1 to S6, are asked to share their future career plans and are offered targeted support, including support from in-house Skills Development Scotland Career Advisors, to help them on their chosen path.While the S2 Tenner Challenge is running, all House Time teachers in the school deliver learning experiences focusing on enterprise and the importance of entrepreneurship to local and national economies.
Dunoon Grammar are committed to continuous improvement in their Enterprise Education provision. They review their curricular offer to their young people and include the wider business community in these discussions - to ensure continued relevance.
In August 2019, our DGS BGE Skills Framework was launched. Teachers reference skills development within learning intentions and success criteria as well as when discussing how tasks and activities will be completed. At this moment in time, an evaluation is being conducted on our skills journey thus far as we are only at the beginning.
We are intending on embedding our skills framework within our learning and teaching policy as well as our formal observation procedures to ensure consistency across the school environment. We have plans to create skills walls around the school with evidence of learner work. Focussed skills development learning conversations will be a priority next term with a pilot conducted with a group of targeted learners with a fully planned BGE roll out to follow. Furthermore, the P7 Profile will be reviewed and revised to bring it in line with the framework with plans to do the same with the S3 Profile.
There are challenges ahead, as David clarifies "We have been extremely successful at embedding enterprise education in our BGE provision, less so with our senior phase. This impacts on pupil motivation and engagement levels. We must continue to innovate and have the courage to adopt fresh approaches, as we have witnessed the positive impact they can have on attainment and achievement.
As Paul Gallanagh, Principal Teacher of Business and Computing confirmed "Our young people now have a taste for enterprise and enjoy and appreciate this as a means for learning. They will not allow us to go back to our previous autocratic ways".
The school seeks to work with partners that share the same ethos and who can provide learning experiences that fit with the curriculum, but go beyond what the school themselves can offer.
The school has actively sought opportunities for effective partnership working with a range of local and national organisations - including the Dunoon Film Festival, the Cowal Highland Gathering, EnviroKirn (a local environmental initiative), the Young Enterprise Scotland Company Programme, the Young Enterprise Tenner Challenge, the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, Apps for Good, The Subway Design a Sub Challenge and the UK School of Marketing.
Again, each department has the mandate to seek out such partnership working, with local and national organisations. For example, the Business & Computing department has had a curricular planning event - inviting local business to review current provision and to recommend improvements to ensure the young people are developing skills and knowledge relevant to the dynamic and local economy.
Rich learning in co-operation with a range of partners that takes place in the formal, timetabled curriculum includes:
All S1 pupils and S3 pupils studying Computing Science participate on pioneering Apps for Good courses as part of formal provision. S1 pupils develop computer coding skills while working on the innovative Internet of Things (IoT) course. S3 pupils further expand their coding skills while working on the AfG ground-breaking Machine Learning course. Pupils develop ideas from conception to fully coded prototypes - developed to meet a social need the young people have identified. Pupils are fully supported throughout the process, with regular Expert Sessions - where pupils discuss their ideas with industry experts via video-conferencing meetings. This has included sessions with the likes of Spotify, EPAM, Thomson Reuters and Barclays.
The school also hosts its own in-house Apps for Good marketplace, where all AfG teams showcase their ideas and prototypes to an audience of local industry experts, elected members and the local community attending the school. Visitors vote for their favourite idea in a Peoples' Choice award. Pupils also enter a number of national events and have enjoyed great success in recent years - beating off stiff competition from across the UK. Teams from the school have won first prize at the Apps for Good Scotland event the past three years. Dunoon Grammar School were also crowned Apps for Good UK School of the Year 2017 and a member of our staff was awarded UK Educator of the Year 2018. This success has been recognised in early day motions at the UK Parliament in Westminster, has been featured in the press and recognised at a future entrepreneurs event in San Jose, California this Spring. The school has just received notice that two of our teams will travel to London in June to compete in this year's UK awards final. Another team has already been announced as the Innovation Employability Skills Prize winner for 2019.
All S2 pupils participate on the Tenner Challenge. Each pupil is 'loaned' £10 to set-up a business enterprise. Many choose to work in teams to identify and satisfy gaps in the local market, through the provision of products and services. Pupils learn about business creativity, target marketing, planning, market research and the marketing-mix with the aim of making a profit. Pupils are supported by teaching staff during the four-week initiative. The challenge culminates with an in-house 'pop-up shop' event - with pupils constructing stalls to then sell their products to the local school community. Pupils also enter national Tenner competitions, with one of the teams scooping UK 'pop-up' shop of the year last year. Many of the young people also choose to donate all or some of their profits to local charities - often the charity they have supported on the YPI initiative
All S2 pupils also work on the Youth Philanthropy Initiative - with the objective of winning £3000 to donate to a local charity. Working in teams, the pupils research a local social issue of concern to them. They then identify and visit a local grassroots charity that works to address their identified issue. The pupil teams are then tasked to devise an engaging, creative and emotive presentation - illustrating why their charity is deserving of the award. Class heats take place, with the winning team from each class taking part in the YPI Grand Final.
This final has very quickly become a major event in the school calendar with an audience of over 400 attending. Each of the finalists battle it out to pitch to a panel of judges - consisting of elected members of local and national parliaments, the local business community and pupils and staff of the school - as to why they should win the £3000. This fitting finale is as showpiece event, hosted by pupils of the school and including pupil entertainment acts - musical and drama - to add to the occasion. It culminates in the winner being announced and the £3000 being presented to the deserving charity. This enterprising approach to YPI - with the aim of developing creative and enterprising skills as well as the use of cutting-edge IT to research and produce engaging multimedia presentations - has been identified as best practise by YPI. Staff from the school have shared our approach at the YPI Leaders national event in Edinburgh - to over 250 other schools that run the initiative.
YPI also invited a number of other schools to attend this year's YPI Grand Final at Dunoon Grammar School - as a professional learning opportunity for them. Pupils from the school also shared their creative and enterprising approach at the YPI National event last June - in front of 1,200 people, including representatives from our national and local governments. Two Dunoon Grammar School pupils will host this prestigious event this June. The school's inventive approach to delivering YPI as an immersive enterprising learning experience has also been harnessed by YPI in new resources that will be launched next year - to be used by the hundreds of schools working on this worthwhile initiative.
All S3 Business pupils work in teams on a creative enterprising project - tasked to develop a new 6" sub sandwich for multinational brand Subway UK. Pupils put their class learning into action on the initiative - including market research, target marketing, branding, marketing-mix, social media, production and operations and finance - to generate and develop ideas. This included visits to the local Subway store to produce their own sub idea and Q&A sessions with the local franchisee. The school hosted their own in-house final, where our teams pitched their concept to a panel of experts. Teams entered the national competition and two teams were invited to Glasgow to pitch their ideas to Subway UK. These two teams beat off stiff competition from across the country to win the top two prizes - best social media campaign and overall winners. The winning idea is currently available to buy in Scottish Subway stores.
S5/6 pupils studying Business Management participated in the first ever UK School of Marketing Challenge this year. Pupils were tasked to develop a new ice-cream brand for multinational Unilever. Pupils had to produce a video pitch clearly illustrating their target market and marketing-mix for their new idea. A Dunoon Grammar School team beat stiff competition from across the globe to scoop this inaugural competition prize - with the reward being a year's supply of ice-cream for the winning team.
Young people studying Administration & IT in S3 and S5/6 work with the Dunoon Film Festival to organise and host several screenings as part of this annual local event. Pupils are empowered with the freedom to generate ideas and then plan and implement events as part of the official programme for the festival. This includes 'Cinema Takeovers' and 'Pop-up' screenings at local landmarks and local primary and nursery schools.
Principal Teacher of Business and Computing
Dunoon Grammar School