Forge Entrepreneurs Win Place At The Palace

A team of aspiring entrepreneurs from Ormiston Forge Academy have made it to the final of the nationwide enterprise competition Tycoon in Schools.

The ten sixth formers have set up Backstage Bunting, a company that designs, produces and sells a fashionable range of decorative flags.

In recognition of their success, they have been invited to a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in March, alongside eight other student-companies hoping to be crowned the overall winners.

Ormiston Forge Academy Principal Andrew Burns said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our students have been recognised for the hard work and determination they showed with the Tycoon in Schools project. Backstage Bunting was an outstanding idea and our Forge students have learnt many real business skills. They also turned the idea into a profitable, realistic venture.

“Skills like this will stay with them forever and we are grateful to Peter Jones and his team for their support and giving us the opportunity to showcase our talents. I’m incredibly proud of our students and their teacher Miss Bennett and they are deserving of their day at the Palace.”

During a seven-week trading period at the end of last year, the students raked in an impressive profit of £450. As well as selling vast quantities of their vintage and ‘shabby-chic’ designs to teachers, they targeted a younger market, producing styles for children’s bedrooms and nurseries.

The group sold their bunting at school and at various local events, before submitting an evaluation report to a judging panel chaired by successful entrepreneur and star of Dragons’ Den Peter Jones CBE.

Mr Jones said: “I’ve been completely blown away by the standard of entries in this year’s competition and deciding who should go through to the final has not been easy. After long deliberation, we’ve chosen these amazing and diverse businesses and I can’t wait to meet them at our awards ceremony.

“The members of Backstage Bunting have developed a sustainable business model and produced some really attractive products. They thoroughly deserve their place in the final round.”

Launched by Peter Jones and run by his charity, the Peter Jones Foundation, Tycoon in Schools – now in its third year – sees schoolchildren from across the UK developing their own real-life businesses.

After pitching an idea to their teachers, they receive a loan of up to £1,000 from the charity to get their companies up and running.

Curriculum Director of Business Studies Claire Bennett said: “The enjoyment, the hard work, the commitment and friendship our students developed during the process is priceless. It’s what makes my job so satisfying. Backstage Bunting will be remembered and spoken about for years to come with their families and friends, it made that much of an impact.

“These students are a credit to Ormiston Forge Academy and it’s initiatives like Tycoon in Schools that prepare our young people for the future – not only to be innovative but to develop that have-a-go attitude.”

The other groups that have made this year’s final have specialised in a wide variety of products, including trinkets made from recycled materials, handcrafted cruiser skateboards and miniature Christmas jumpers for wine bottles.

As well as vying for the coveted top spot –for which the winners will receive £1,000 investment prize money – the Ormiston Forge students are in competition with two other teams for first place in the Key Stage 5 category.

Managing Director of Backstage Bunting Mohmana Shahid said: “We can’t believe that we’ve been chosen as a finalist. We’ve learnt so much about running a business during the trading period for Tycoon in Schools – it felt reward enough. Visiting Buckingham Palace is going to be a dream come true.”

Tycoon in Schools is part of the Peter Jones Foundation’s work to put enterprise education at the heart of young people’s learning in the UK. For more information visit www.tycooninschools.com.

(L-R) Aamna Saleem, Aisha Ali, Simran Aujla, Ray Pearshouse-Oliver, Aniqa Begum, Mohmana Shahid, Okot-Asi Ika-Oqua, Alice Barnard (Peter Jones Foundation CEO), Kasam Jamaal, Simba Munyaradzi (Megan Bowen wasn’t available for the picture)

(L-R) Aamna Saleem, Aisha Ali, Simran Aujla, Ray Pearshouse-Oliver, Aniqa Begum, Mohmana Shahid, Okot-Asi Ika-Oqua, Alice Barnard (Peter Jones Foundation CEO), Kasam Jamaal, Simba Munyaradzi (Megan Bowen wasn’t available for the picture)

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