students on the sofa

Young Entrepreneurs in Action

As you dive into a typical day with the Year 1 pupils in Attenborough class, you are immersed in a world of creativity, exploration and applied learning. The room is filled with the pupils’ creations and a sense of fluid and dynamic activities designed to embed and extend their skills across the curriculum.

Ever watching from the mantelpiece are the learning power animals, each with special powers to remind and support the 5 and 6-year-olds in developing their understanding of the dispositions they use every day. Spend some time with the class and you will see and hear them offering the animals to their friends to congratulate them on using a skill, or to offer support and encouragement when they see someone grappling with a task.

Among the daily phonics, writing and maths lessons, the young pupils have created a whole world from clay, sticks, cardboard and paint. Each of them collaborates to add a new feature, a new creature, and along the way, they develop the characters of the stories they tell and write about their collaborative creations.

It’s summer term, and as the term winds its way toward the end of the year, the pupils are unaware of how ready they are for their next steps. Along with the rest of the school, the year 1 pupils are developing their entrepreneurial skills in preparation for the end-of-year Business Fair.

Ideas flow around the classroom, and the democratic approach Atelier 21 is built on weaves its way into this exciting project. The pupils explore the process of choosing and creating products, learning about and designing logos, choosing a business name, and developing compelling marketing strategies to encourage parents to buy their creations.

Using the project-based approach to learning that is ever present, Gloria, their kind and observant teacher, knows the individuals and the class well. Having followed their interests for the last two terms, she knows they are a class with a social and environmental conscience. The children want to make a difference and do their bit to save the planet.

With the environment in mind, the pupils experiment with creating natural cleaning products, each choosing a different natural fragrance. True to experiential learning, they test the products using a scientific method: what works well, how can they improve it, does it do its job, or do they need to develop their product formulas? The ever-curious young minds excitedly engage in a critical approach to developing their business fair products.

Today, the focus turns to how they will present their products. As the pupils set about learning to sew, they find it challenging and frustrating at first. Working with fabric can be a little tricky, they practice with paper to keep their lines straighter and designs effective.

Recognising this task requires great focus and patience, the pupils reflect on the skills they are using:

‘I’m using the turtle learning power because I’m persevering.’
‘Me too!’
‘I made a kite that says look after the rainforest.’

It’s time for marketing “Attenborough style,” and having been engaged in developing their poetry writing skills earlier in the week, the small class of pupils decides it’s time for a song! There is never a dull moment in year 1 as they gather around the small round tables to write the lines and practice the tune. Every student contributes a word, a line and even the musical accompaniment, as one pupil brings their gigantic keyboard to class to maximise the impact of their new song…

Everyone buys the good stuff
Everyone buys the good stuff again.
Because the good stuff is the good stuff.
Everyone buys the good stuff at Atelier 21, Oh yeah!

It helps your skin stay on because you are not a snake.
Because the children make the good stuff like a cake.
We are using orange, lemon, lime and cucumber, and rosemary, yeah.
It smells like honey and bees.
It smells so nice like your eyes are shining.
It smells so nice and your skin shines like you’re so clean…

Everyone buys the good stuff
Everyone buys the good stuff again.
Because the good stuff is the good stuff.
Everyone buys the good stuff at Atelier 21, Oh yeah!

With democracy at the heart of the process, the Year 1 pupils are nearly ready for the end-of-term business fair. The products are designed, the packaging is created, the business name is chosen, the logos are designed, the marketing is produced and the performances are practiced. These five and six-year-olds are ready to take on business with their own brand of environmental consciousness. Future-based learning, consciously designed and applied… today the Atelier 21 business fair… tomorrow the world.