Dragon's Den lured to Dunblane

12th September 2008 at 01:00
The air is laden with tension. Brows are furrowed and chins stroked as the no-nonsense panellists grill a series of nervous entrepreneurs.

The air is laden with tension. Brows are furrowed and chins stroked as the no-nonsense panellists grill a series of nervous entrepreneurs.

It is a familiar scene on BBC2's Dragons' Den - and is to become an annual event at Dunblane High. The show has provided a template for an ambitious, week-long induction programme for the school's new S5s. The inaugural event took place in June, during which teams had to come up with a community-based project. The climax came on the Friday. Heats were held in the morning, before three teams presented their ideas to four "dragons" in the final. To make things even more daunting, they had to do so in front of about 100 peers.

Anne McEwan, whole-school principal teacher, said the event was a "voyage into the unknown". She had not known whether it would keep pupils interested for a week.

In fact, having spent a fraught few weeks revising for and sitting exams, they were enthralled by the chance to do something more creative. They were also motivated by the knowledge that the project was not a simulation - their ideas might actually come to life.

The event also captured the imagination of local businesses, who sent 16 representatives to run workshops and help with judging.

Pupils started tentatively, constantly seeking approval for their ideas. By the end, they were fielding searching questions from the dragons, and were "hyped up" about the prospects of winning.

The hall was hushed as the dragons - Stirling Council's Determined to Succeed co-ordinator, Jacqueline Hughes, headteacher Dot White, Dunblane Development Trust's Bryan Grieve and businessman Matthew Shaw, of Stirling Blinds - reached their decision.

The winning team, Funblane, was determined to change the image of young people in Dunblane. Members Sarah Holden, Jamie Hearle, Laura Martin and Sally McIntyre impressed with their idea of a summer fete in August 2009 to raise money for local projects.

Dot White wants the event to be repeated with new S5s each year, believing it an ideal example of the type of initiatives that A Curriculum for Excellence can inspire.

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