Inspire! Director, David Blagbrough made a nostalgic return to his old primary school, Brecknock in Camden, as part of a Dragon’s Den panel to assess the next generation of budding entrepreneurs.
Brecknock took part in Inspire!’s flagship Work Week programme. This entails a week-long series of tailored events for every year group at the school. Each activity is themed around jobs and some of the skills needed to do them. Year 6’s task was to come up with an invention that addresses social need together with budget forecasts and a marketing plan. Teams then had to pitch their ideas to the Dragon’s Den panel including David Blagbrough, Sue Ladipo, Brecknock’s Head Teacher and business volunteer, Cheryle Esposito, who works for KPMG. Additional Dragons were Yamin Choudhury from Hackney Empire, Laura Hugill representing Google and Standard Chartered’s Nadeem Shamim.
David has been Director of Inspire! since 2006, following a long career with the British Council where he was involved with educational and cultural activities both in the UK and overseas. He told the children: “This was my school. I came here as a boy and my mother was a dinner lady here. It has been a marvellous opportunity and a privilege to come back here.”
Two Year 6 classes made their presentations armed with prototypes and PowerPoints. Teams were marked on the strength of their product idea, how well they presented, the product and pitch that represented the best investment, and the group judged to have shown excellent team work.
Best product idea from 6M was judged to be ‘The Learning Pen’, a self-correcting pen that senses a spelling or maths error and then vibrates to alert the writer. It also had a built-in dictionary and a two-year ink supply. The judges liked the concept and the fact that the inventors had targeted schools as a potential market. They commended the team for pointing out that the pen would not be allowed during exams!
The award for the best presentation went to team ‘Loyal’ for their pitch on ‘Hot Lighties’ slippers that keep your feet warm and light up when you walk. “This was really well presented with humour and a good sell. You answered the questions well even if you didn’t really know the answers,” Sue Ladipo told them.
Aisha Duale, a member of the Spell Wizards’ team that came up with ‘The Learning Pen’ said: “I liked designing the product best. It was actually my idea but the other members of my team helped to make it better.”
Work Week activities for other year groups at Brecknock included visits by Camden Council, Virgin Trains, Royal Mail, Cats Protection, Google, Standard Chartered, an optician and community gardeners from The Calthorpe Project. Workplace visits were also hosted by Caravan, Hilton, Marks & Spencer, Shoreditch Fire Station, Bank of England and Swiss Cottage Library.