Highfurlong - Holistic Enterprise Realising Opportunities

This case study was prepared by Joanne Martin from Highfurlong, edited by Joseph Tixier from the OECD LEED Programme 



Highfurlong poterie

‌Highfurlong is a co-educational community school for pupils of ages 3 to 19 with a wide range of special educational needs, these include:

The educational level of our students range from pre National Curriculum at P2 up to NC level 6 (pre-primary to higher secondary); as a school we focus on Personalised Learning Pathways for all students. At present there are

Blackpool is a seaside town in Lancashire, which is situated in the north west of England. Blackpool has a population of 142,000. For young people growing up in Blackpool, there are a range of challenges across both educational attainment and life chance indicators. The range of issues is partly driven by the existing high levels of poverty and social disadvantage in the town. There have been, and continue to evolve, major regeneration projects to improve the lives of residents in Blackpool.

At Highfurlong it is recognised that entrepreneurial education (referred to in the UK as enterprise education) is a term for an approach to learning and teaching that has evolved over recent years. The concept of entrepreneurial education continues to develop, but for the focus of our work, entrepreneurial education:


Highfurlong cashier

In 2005, through one of our community partners, Deborah Parker Chief Executive Officer of Progress Supported Employment recognised there was significant entrepreneurial based work being delivered by staff at Highfurlong School and subsequently provided funding for six members of staff to undertake the National Federation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NftE) qualification in order for them to teach and accredit the entrepreneurial education.

By 2007 a group of students in the age range 14-19 had completed the NftE qualification at Level 2 and we had introduced further qualifications and awards across the ability range for our pupils. Business groups were created such as car washing, gift hampers, staff lunches and adapted sports training.

Since the Hero project ceased in 2012, Highfurlong, through the Manager and Coordinator, has ensured that adequate resources are provided to support enterprise education delivery and development. We have successfully accessed funding to support whole school business development and specific sponsorship for individual business groups; this is now seen to be an important part of sustainability.

At Highfurlong we are committed to ensuring that every student has the opportunity to develop a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship as a key competence. Businesses and society in general require individuals who can be innovative in their approach and adapt to change with a range of problem-solving skills. Such skills are an essential part of student preparation for adult life and the working world. We believe that successful entrepreneurial learning will occur when it is embedded in the curriculum alongside Work Related Learning, Information Advice and Guidance (careers), citizenship and the Personalised Learning Curriculum Pathways.

A great starting point is focusing on personalised learning, to look at what motivates a pupil, what they're good at and then provide lots of opportunities to try new things and build selfesteem. It is important to get involved in a wide range of projects and initiatives because our students need as much experience of real life as possible. With the right support in place, everyone can be successful and we fully promote a Can Do Attitude.

Description of the activity/project

The Hero Project (Holistic Enterprise Realising Opportunities) was an initiative introduced into Blackpool in September 2007. Nicola Hall and Alison Sadler coordinated the Hero Project across the authority. The HERO Project was written and developed as one of the key projects under the Blackpool Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (L.E.G.I.) and was funded as such over a three year period from 2007-2010, then extended until 2012, funding was £1.20m over this period. HERO was a bespoke entrepreneurial education project written to develop entrepreneurial education amongst 14-19 year olds in Blackpool. The project encompassed the 8 mainstream secondary schools, 3 special schools, 2 further education colleges and the Education Diversity Service. The project also operated closely with Integrated Youth Services to provide an inclusive project to young people outside of the mainstream education system. The aim of the project is to facilitate an entrepreneurial mind-set amongst young people to allow them to contribute to their own economic prosperity, and that of the town by engaging young people in aspiration raising activities. The project concentrated its activities around three main themes: Entrepreneurial Capability, Financial Literacy and Business & Economic Understanding. The funding contributed towards a specialised team of Enterprise Facilitators based in the educational partners to allow access to support and resources provided by the project.

As Enterprise Manager Joanne produces updates the Policy For Enterprise, an Action Plan for the year and also completes a detailed Subject Evaluation Form (SEF) this is reported to the Senior Leadership Team and the Governors. The Enterprise Management Team has developed a process of monitoring, review and evaluation across the curriculum focused on the quality of entrepreneurial learning and teaching, achieved through rigorous lesson observation and monitoring of planning.

Highfurlong groupwork

All students are involved in a National Enterprise Weeks every November and again during a week in May / June, and pupils are encouraged to participate in a wide range of entrepreneurial activities during the year. During the Enterprise Weeks we have at least two specific areas for focus for example money management and the application of number; using weighing, measuring and counting, accessing a trade facility to purchase goods at cost, these opportunities enable our students to improve their skills and increase their ability to generalise these skills. Other examples include Communication, Team Work and Problem Solving, which are taken from the Rotherham Big 13. Within Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 students access relevant, meaningful entrepreneurial learning opportunities to improve their key skills, life skills and improve their enterprise capabilities.

During the year, students have the opportunity to develop initiatives or small businesses. The majority of business ideas emerge through student led discussion. Market research is conducted to ascertain demand. Roles are decided within the business group and a business plan is developed, funding is sourced, order forms and posters designed and produced and unit costs worked out to establish prices, risk assessments completed and then the students produce the goods or provide the service. Spreadsheets and data are produced to support and advise sustainability.

Business groups within school can request a startup grant or loan but increasingly the group will self -fund from either a previous business or complete a one off event to raise the startup costs for a further business. The Casanova’s business group attended a Dragon’s Den event at a specialist college and although the group did not win the overall competition they were approached by a local business person who offered to sponsor the business. This was followed by a work place visit to the company and an official pitch to secure funding back at school with the directors.

Many of the businesses are run on a seasonal basis and we have a major focus on social enterprise projects, raising money for charities. Sustainable businesses include a coffee shop, which runs every Thursday morning, Cake Away which is a business run by two of our sensory learners and involves them creating edible treats, with support, by shopping for ingredients, making the product and visiting each classroom to sell the product every Thursday afternoon. These students use AAC (Alternative, Augmentative Communication) to engage with their potential customers. A key stage 5 group are continuing to promote the Casanova’s business group and have extended their range of Personalised Survival Kits to include “Thank You Teacher” “Thank You Support Assistant” and “University Survival Kit”

Students earn wages in the form of the profits being shared within each business group, these amounts are entered onto an Enterprise Credit system and students decide how to spend (or save) their money, thus establishing the link between working hard in order to earn wages. This is really important, because many of our young people may depend on benefits into adulthood, but, because students are motivated by enterprise opportunities, they get very good personal and academic, accredited outcomes. A new wage request form has been set up on the computer and a print out is available to each class detailing the amount each student has on their credit card. Enterprise education motivates pupils at all stages: as they see purpose and relevance in their school work to their future lives, young people are engaged in their learning and attain better.

Highfurlong group

At Highfurlong we constantly evaluate and assess what we do and programmes of study are designed to meet the needs and interests of the pupils. Assessment procedures have been developed at Highfurlong but continue to evolve to meet individual need and interest to allow students to record and reflect on learning across the curriculum, helping them make links and recognise the skills they have developed. Enterprise education supports Personalised Learning Pathways for our students; the young person is always at the centre of what we do.

Students are involved throughout all processes and all their work is accredited within a variety of programmes of study. Assessment for Learning within Enterprise is evidenced through external accredited qualifications and awards, for personal science and health education, Citizenship, and more recently we have identified areas within science and in particular Maths. Evidence has been recorded significantly using Evernote. There is a much clearer message now that through Enterprise activity progress can be evidenced across the curriculum and also it is increasingly apparent that the impact on personal development is extremely positive.

Over the past five years we have delivered a range of programmes of study within the area of Enterprise. These programmes are externally accredited through independent organization such as ASDAN, a curriculum development organisation and awarding body, offering programmes and qualifications that explicitly grow skills for learning, skills for employment and skills for life.

Younger pupils complete modules within Stepping Stones, New Horizons and Key Steps programmes of study, all of which have modules with a focus on Enterprise.

Anchoring of the activity/project in the school

 A key starting point was the school leadership team identified a member of staff who has specific responsibility for entrepreneurial education. The management of Enterprise is the responsibility of Joanne Martin (Assistant Headteacher) and Sandra Hullah Enterprise Coordinator. This has always involved regular meetings and time for implementation and planning. Senior management is committed to the concept and benefits of enterprise education within the school curriculum and the school has ensured that there is governor awareness and involvement in monitoring enterprise education development. The wider community through our extensive collaborative partners are informed and included in and support entrepreneurial learning throughout the school.

As a staff, at Highfurlong, we are encouraged to be creative and innovative; we all play a role in supporting the best educational and personal opportunities for our young people. As a whole school, all staff plan for and integrate enterprise into the curriculum at other significant times during the school year. Class teachers and support staff have really embraced this way of working and drive the enterprise work forward. As an outward looking school we embrace all opportunities, which will enhance learning and personal development for our students.

The next stage was to establish clarity and a policy, which would support our ethos around personalised learning for our pupils.

The Enterprise Policy, when created initially in 2005, was concerned with bringing about a culture change in Highfurlong, so that all the young people gain an effective experience of enterprise education.

Enterprise education motivates pupils at all stages: as they see purpose and relevance in their school work to their future lives, young people are motivated and attain better.

Highfurlong adopted a whole school commitment to Enterprise and Entrepreneurial learning. This meant;

Links of the activity/project with the external world

A critical element of the work was engagement with outside partners to ensure that all enterprise education was treated as directly relevant to the development of life skills and employability skills. The first year of the HERO Project put an emphasis on enterprise within the classroom. It was recognised that for a sustainable enterprise culture to be created in Blackpool, our young people need to recognise the value of enterprise skills and the contribution they make towards a brighter future. The project was committed to contributing to the long-term economic growth of Blackpool through the development of young people. In monetary terms this meant we received £600 per month.

Also, a business person from out of our local area had heard about the entrepreneurial work at Highfurlong and has sponsored our Enterprise Programme by donating a total of £10,000 over the past five years. In return he requires updates on progress and initiatives, copies of action plans and reports to the Governing body. The accounts for the subject are the responsibility of the Enterprise coordinator and one of the team leaders, the books are accounted at the auditors on an annual basis

The school in the community

Staff within Highfurlong work collaboratively with a wide range of external agencies, employers, public, private and voluntary sectors to support work related learning, enterprise and transition into adulthood; at both a local and national level.

Students work with local businesses, a photographer and printers, to produce the annual Christmas Card and Calendar which is sent out to the school community. As an EQ Pathfinder School we have worked with a local design and print shop to create promotional items for sale, including mugs, postcards, coasters and magnets, which have inspirational quotes as part of the design.

Highfurlong School seeks to play an active role in its community, we are an outward looking school and take advantage of all the opportunities afforded to us:

Pupils from the age of eight participate in work place visits; those planned for this academic year include Blackpool Transport, The Hilton Hotel and Blackpool Zoo. When the students reach key stages 4 and 5 the work place offer becomes increasingly more personalised as the young people say what types of experience they would like. The placements are personalised with regard to level of support, access, hours worked and tasks undertaken. The initial contact, risk assessments and insurance organisation is completed by an employment support officer, with whom a service level agreement is made at the beginning of each academic year. Placements are varied and have included hairdressing, graphic design, photography, animal care, hotel work and at a cinema. There have been extended placements when a student worked two days a week at a garage, another in McDonalds and at present one of our students is undertaking two days working for Royal Mail and spends three days in school. Employability skills are a focus together with the appropriate qualifications for the next stage along the individual students pathway.

Achievements and impact

HERO was a winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award in 2010, being described as “a project that inspires an enterprise culture amongst young people in Blackpool and beyond. The project provides young people with enterprise education, equipping them with business skills, financial capabilities and an entrepreneurial attitude so that they can become effective contributors to their communities. They work in schools through the curriculum and extracircularly through special events and programmes.”

Highfurlong ICT

During the Academic year 2007 - 08 saw 2669 young people across the 14-19 sector engaged in enterprise education activities, 707 hours of teacher continuing professional development in enterprise education delivered to help develop enterprise activities and enterprising lessons, 4500 HERO magazines highlighted inspirational local case studies to young people and over 40 new and sustainable business/education partnerships created.

The results and outcomes of the project that we, as a school, are most proud of are that we have promoted a culture change in Highfurlong, so that all the young people gain an effective experience of enterprise education. Over the past ten years we have become increasingly aware of how enterprise education motivates pupils at all stages: as they see purpose and relevance in their school work to their future lives, young people are motivated and attain better. Enterprise Journey targets form part of each pupils annual review of progress. Students enjoy being involved in business groups, participating in social enterprise projects based locally, nationally and worldwide. They enjoy being in control, working as a member of a team, having real outcomes and the opportunties to work with a range of collaborative partners within school and the community. Expectations are greater and continue to grow.


Success factors

The main success factors of the initiative Entrepreneurial Education for Pupils with Special Educational Needs – A Whole School Approach at Highfurlong are; a lead person or team of people who have the commitment and drive to make it work.The planned development of enterprise education in school is essential. As part of the planning process, consider current enterprise education activity in relation to pupil entitlements in order to develop an overall strategy as part of the school development plan.

Obstacles and ways to overcome them

The main obstacles encountered during the organisation of the initiative have been that Initially the senior departments in school embraced the opportunities, when the group of six staff accessed the initial training they were from key stages 4 and 5. Between 2005 and 2007 enterprise education was part of the offer for the senior students only. When HERO was launched and we became involved in the National Enterprise Week, we automatically included the primary department, however, it became clear that staff Career Personal Development was required as was support for resourcing and funding. It was found that within each class there was at least one person keen to become involved, as they were aware of the impact entrepreneurship had made on the senior students. The staff were nurtured and support was available to ensure success.

The manager and coordinator offer incentives to promote the delivery of enterprise, for example funding visits to significant companies such as Jaguar Landrover, organising visiting speakers and workshops and on occasion non-repayable start up grants. The biggest challenge we now have is the time element as the pupils are so busy, we now offer an after school enterprise club which has 14 members and a waiting list.

Developing an appropriate assessment tool was a challenge but we use the Big 13 as a framework and differentiate the areas to make progression steps smaller but clear. In addition by using Evernote we are able to capture the essence of the practical approach to enterprise education promoted at Highfurlong. Also, we need to reflect and ask ourselves what we are assessing and why; this continues to be an area for development. Funding could be an obstacle but isn’t whilst we are able to bid for money and have sponsorship from local businesses.