Thoresby Primary School Hull - Practice in promoting entrepreneurship

‌This case study was prepared by Elise Sirel from Thoresby, edited by Joseph Tixier from the OECD LEED Programme 


Thoresby SDC10053

The city of Kingston upon Hull is one of the most deprived urban areas in the country. Thoresby Primary is a large school located in a 1902 building in the very centre of the city and serves an area facing increased social and economic deprivation. We cater for children from 3 to 11. Pupil movement in and out of the school is high, as is the percentage of pupils from ethnic minority groups; 29 languages are spoken amongst our 469 children and 37.4% of our pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds.  34.5% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, which is above the national average of 26.7%. 10.3% of pupils have special educational needs.  This is also above the national average. Of these pupils, a small number are likely to transfer to a special school at the age of 11. Currently we cater for the needs of pupils with a wide range of disabilities, including autistic spectrum disorder, speech and language difficulties, dyslexia and cerebral palsy. We have a large staff of 22 teachers, 2 nursery nurses, and 24 teaching assistants.

The school has recently converted to academy status and forms part of an academy trust with 5 other schools within the Hull boundary. The school follows the National Curriculum for England which comprises English, mathematics, science, art and design, geography, history, design and technology, languages, music, computing and physical education. Entrepreneurial education does not currently form part of the National Curriculum. The needs of our pupils require us to focus on core skills (English and maths). This can make the inclusion of subjects which lie outside the National Curriculum a challenge. However, Thoresby’s academy status allows us to be flexible and to create a bespoke curriculum in order to meet the varied needs of our pupils.

The city of Hull is keen to raise outcomes for young people so that local school leavers can benefit from the new companies which are being attracted to the city by its current regeneration programme. We are one of many Hull primary schools to have benefited from local government support of, and investment in, a wide enterprise education scheme. The Hull Ready initiative, for example, actively promotes the development of enterprise and entrepreneurial skills at the earliest possible point in a child’s education by establishing an enterprise education network for primary schools, offering advice, staff training and some funding.


Entrepreneurial education is referred to as enterprise education at Thoresby.

We are determined to be at the cutting edge of educational practice and have developed a skills-based curriculum to support and challenge all levels of ability. Enterprise education is at the heart of that educational practice and personalised learning is well developed.

Our pupils are entering a world which is subject to constant and rapid change and innovation. It is difficult to predict what the employment market will look like when they are ready to enter it.  Enterprise education equips our students with a set of practical, transferable skills which can be applied in all areas of life and prepares them for the challenges that lie ahead.

Enterprise education at Thoresby:

Our enterprise journey began in 2010 when we started looking for ways to develop an engaging and relevant curriculum to meet the diverse needs of our pupils, improve teaching and create more successful learners.  Hull Ready and Rotherham Ready have been central to the development of enterprise education at Thoresby through the Big 13 skills and initiatives such as Make £5 Blossom.

Description of the activity/project

The objectives of enterprise education at Thoresby are set out in our Enterprise Education Policy, and are as follows:

To provide learners with the opportunity:

The development of enterprise education at Thoresby

Initially one teacher attended Enterprise Champion training provided by Hull Ready. This training introduced us to the Big 13 skills. A set of transferable, practical ‘real life’ skills developed by Rotherham Ready, the Big 13 have been adopted by an increasing number of schools, colleges and training providers in the area and provide a language and set of concepts which underpin entrepreneurial education.

The Big 13 are:

  1. Team Work
  2. Risk Management
  3. Negotiating and Influencing
  4. Effective Communication
  5. Creativity and Innovation
  6. Positive Attitude
  7. Initiative
  8. Organisation and Planning Skills
  9. Problem Solving
  10. Leadership
  11. Making Ethical Decisions
  12. Financial Literacy
  13. Product and Service Design

Back at school, children in year 4 were introduced to the ideas associated with the Big 13 skills through a range of practical activities such as team challenges, the creation of characters to represent the various skills and identifying which of the Big 13 might be used in a range of real life scenarios.

Along with 10 other schools the class took part in Make £5 Blossom, a project aimed at linking schools with local businesses, in which classes are given a loan of £150 to set up their own business. This became a pilot project and enabled one teacher and class to explore the principles of enterprise fully before rolling it out across the whole school. With the support of our business partner, a local shop keeper, the children set up ‘Tie-Mark’, a business making and selling tie-dyed socks, jewellery and key rings. The class divided into teams (sales, marketing, finance, etc.) and developed a business plan, made samples of their products, carried out market research, advertised their business, recorded their sales using spreadsheets and kept balance sheets. At the end of the project, along with the other schools involved in Make £5 Blossom, the children attended a celebration event hosted by Hull Truck Theatre where they gave a presentation to share their enterprise journey with an audience made up of other schools. After paying back the original loan they had made around £115 in profit. They voted to use some of that money to pay for a celebratory party and used the remainder to establish an enterprise fund to enable other classes in the school to resource entrepreneurial activity.

Following this first round of Make £5 Blossom, teachers from the Foundation Stage, year 2 and year 6 were trained by Hull Ready. They then led whole staff training back at school. In order to ‘spread the word’ pupils from year 4 took the lead in introducing enterprise, and sharing their experiences with the rest of the school through assemblies.

As a means of extending the enterprise agenda throughout the entire school, it was decided that our Christmas and Spring fairs should become enterprise events, with the children in all year groups taking the lead in raising funds for school. These are now a regular feature on the school calendar. Since our initial involvement, 2 other classes have taken part in Make £5 Blossom, working with business partners from a firm of chartered surveyors and a printing company.

Thoresby photo 1 Thoresby photo 5

We are always looking for ways to develop enterprise education further. This autumn, for the first time we have a newly elected Enterprise Committee made up of pupils from years 1 to 6. It is intended that the committee will take the lead in managing the enterprise fund, planning enterprise fairs and liaising with, and seeking out further external business partners.

We also have a new website which includes pages dedicated to enterprise and the committee, through which we will be able to communicate with parents, governors and other interested parties. This is currently in the early stages of construction.

Anchoring of the activity/project in the school

Enterprise education is firmly embedded in the day to day practice of our school. It is not perceived as an ‘extra’ but as an integral part of the curriculum. This has been achieved in a number of ways.

The high profile given to enterprise education by Thoresby’s leaders is demonstrated by its inclusion in the School Improvement Plan which makes explicit the expectation that all staff will effectively embed the Big 13 in the curriculum. It is also school policy that all classrooms display the Big 13 or Enterprise 6 characters.

Enterprise education is one of our many vehicles for learning. Through the Big 13, enterprise is used as a driver to enrich pupils’ learning experiences and to develop skills for the future. In common with many schools in England, Thoresby has adopted a thematic approach to planning. The Big 13 skills are planned into as many areas of the curriculum as possible. This process can involve the creation of a mini-business or might simply identify opportunities for the development of particular skills. At a simple level, teachers refer to the Big 13 in learning objectives across the curriculum. For example, when children are working on problem solving in maths the teacher will draw the children’s attention to the Big 13 statements and discuss which of these skills they need to develop to be successful learners. At other times, enterprise education plays a larger role within the topic. For example, during a topic about water, in response to learning about the difficulties associated with securing a clean water supply in the developing world, year 4 children set up a business to raise money for the charity Water Aid.

In the foundation stage and key stage one, a limited number of skills are introduced to the younger children in the form of 6 Enterprise characters: Pippa Positive, Tim and Tom the Teamwork Twins, Izzy Initiative, Freddy Finance, Charlie Communicate and Chloe Creativity.

Very early in the foundation stage, the characters are introduced one by one and, after a period of time when the skills and behaviours that the characters promote have been exemplified by the children, another one is introduced. The characters lend themselves extremely well in playing an active role whilst establishing expectations within the daily routine. For example, Tim and Tom teamwork skills are celebrated when we are establishing the need for everyone to help at the end of the session to put all the things that we have used back in their places.

As the pace of learning in the foundation stage increases, and becomes more formal Pippa Positive supports the increased expectation on pupils to apply their learning within different contexts.

The characters are in no way linked to enterprise education in a financial sense at this stage, they are merely a platform on which behaviours, skills and expectations are promoted, backed up and celebrated.

As familiarity with the 6 characters becomes secure at the end of the foundation stage, they start to be used across the curriculum in key stage one to support and promote a range of life skills in everything the children do. New learning is linked to Pippa Positive and references in teachers marking will be directed towards a positive mind-set (Pippa is directly referred to in the teacher’s comment). To promote independence in learning, adults will reference Izzy Initiative as inspiration to operate without the support of an adult when tackling learning tasks and everyday routines that the children may have required support for previously.

In order to support the heightened expectation at key stage one in terms of the children presenting their work succinctly and coherently (with an appreciation of audience), Charlie Communicate and Chloe Creativity play a pivotal role.

Apart from learning in mathematics that is centred on using money, Freddie Finance is perhaps the only character whose presence is most celebrated during enterprising projects.

By the end of their time in key stage one the children are well prepared to expand their knowledge and understanding of the remaining skills which are introduced at the start of key stage two.

The funding needed for enterprise education, particularly in relation to business start-up costs, is now largely self-financing through the enterprise budget. Groups and classes can borrow money to fund projects and loans are paid back with interest. It is envisaged that the newly established Enterprise Committee will take the lead in managing the fund in future.

Enterprise education is further sustained by the regular involvement of pupils in events hosted by Hull City Council and Hull Ready. For example, in November 2013, during Global Entrepreneurship Week, 6 pupils from Thoresby were invited to the Guildhall to explain to members of the local chamber of commerce how enterprise education is embedded within our curriculum. More recently, we were invited to set up a stall at an enterprise showcase at a local secondary school attended by His Royal Highness the Duke of York.

Links of the activity/project with the external world

Collaboration is vitally important at Thoresby. We are fortunate to have links with a number of local organisations which enable us to share and learn new skills and ways of working across the city.

Heads, deputies and senior leaders from an academy group based in Wakefield have visited Thoresby to look at our curriculum. One of the objectives was to illustrate how enterprise education has become an integral part of our provision.

The school in the community

The school has regularly contributed to the Vista Festival, which is held biannually in the vicinity and is organised by the Princes Avenue Traders Association. At times our involvement has been explicitly entrepreneurial in nature, with pupils setting up stalls to sell their products directly to the public, whilst on other occasions the pupils have taken part in other activities such as providing musical entertainment.

Thoresby’s school council has representatives from all year groups who are elected by their peers. Recent activities have included a visit to the local police station to find out about the role played by the police in the local area and a visit to the Guildhall to meet the Lord Mayor and learn about local democracy and the role of our local civic leaders.

Our enterprise fairs are also very well attended by parents and other members of the local community.

Thoresby photo 6 Thoresby photo

Achievements and impact

A project which grew out of a key stage one topic on light is one we are especially proud of because it demonstrates so clearly the role that enterprise plays within our curriculum and how it is embedded within teaching and learning. Entitled ‘What would the world be like without light?’ the year 2 topic followed a line of enquiry about space and the universe. The children were particularly enthusiastic about the project, to such an extent that many requested telescopes for their birthdays or asked to visit the National Space Centre. The children were set the challenge of raising funds to pay for a mobile planetarium to visit the school. Linking the enterprise activity to Hull Fair (a local tradition that occurs every October) each class made traditional foods such as flapjacks which they advertised and sold in the playground. The money raised from the event was pooled in order to book and pay for the planetarium which was used to engage the pupils further and extend their learning about the solar system.

As one of a range of initiatives used at Thoresby to engage pupils and contextualise learning, it can be difficult to assess the specific impact that enterprise education has on outcomes for pupils. However, we have seen clear improvement in pupil engagement and attainment in groups of pupils following their involvement in entrepreneurial activity and are confident that development of the Big 13 skills enhances outcomes for all.

For example, in the foundation stage, attainment in 2013 – 2014 was better than in the previous year in those areas of the early years curriculum most influenced by the Enterprise 6.

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile Scores:

Curriculum area

Enterprise 6 character


60 pupils


74 pupils

% increase

Making relationships

Tim and Tom the Teamwork Twins




Self-confidence and self-awareness

Tim and Tom the Teamwork Twins




Managing feelings and behaviour

Tim and Tom the Teamwork Twins




Understanding (of language)

Charlie Communicate





Charlie Communicate




Similarly, at the top end of the school a sizable proportion of pupils made greater progress than would be expected for their age: 19% in mathematics, 38% in reading and 58% in writing.

In terms of maximising the impact of enterprise education we aim to develop the role of the Enterprise Committee, which includes pupils from years 1 to 6 who have been elected by their peers. Their role, with support, will be to take the lead in organising the enterprise fairs, develop links with outside agencies (including commercial businesses and other schools), to act as a bank to provide loans for entrepreneurial activity and use the website to feedback to parents and other interested parties about enterprising activities that have been undertaken.

Another key objective is the need to extend links with commercial organisations so that pupils are able to visit business premises and have meaningful engagement with people from the world of employment.  We would also like to further utilise the expertise and employment strengths of parents, grandparents and former pupils in order to widen our children’s knowledge and understanding of the variety of employment opportunities.

Success factors

We consider the most important factors for the success of enterprise education to be:

Obstacles and ways to overcome them

With a National Curriculum of 11 subjects, finding time for enterprise education can present schools with a problem. At Thoresby we have overcome this difficulty by adopting a cross-curricular, skills focused approach to planning using the Big 13. For example, Big 13 skills such as product and service design and creativity and innovation lend themselves particularly well to the delivery of subjects such as Design and Technology; developing financial capability can be addressed in maths lessons; physical education lessons provide ample opportunities to discuss and improve teamwork.

Enterprise education forces both staff and pupils outside of their comfort zone. Teachers in particular can find it difficult to step back and allow pupils to take the lead in their learning. However, it is crucial that children have opportunities to experience failure in order to develop the strategies needed to manage it. Pupils who are able to do this show greater resilience. The Big 13 skills, particularly risk management and problem solving, provide a framework through which pupils are able to evaluate and accept the success or failure of their endeavours.

A narrow understanding of what enterprise education is can also be an obstacle; if it is viewed purely in terms of setting up a business, it will fail to engage some teachers and pupils. By focusing on a particular skill set and a cross curricular approach we have been able to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to understand and develop entrepreneurial skills. High quality training for teachers is also essential, especially for members of staff who are new either to the profession or to the school.