Fasten your belts, the kids are in the drivers' seats

18th January 2008 at 00:00
Teachers had very little to do with an enterprise project to produce wooden kit cars that sell for pound;4.99. At least that's what the P5s at Sciennes Primary in Edinburgh think.

Nine-year-old Captiva Hills, one of the six managing directors appointed across the three classes, believes what the teachers have mostly done is "sit back and worry".

But the children have not seen the organisation and collaboration that it has taken the teachers, Tanya Flynn, Mel Ross and Jane Smith, to enable the pupils to produce 200 kits; much of it in their spare time.

Part of that organisation was ensuring that the children believed they were sole authors and executors of the whole project.

"There were other things discussed, such as baking, but we decided to do the kit cars," says Edie Turner, 9. "We think it is more exciting. But we had to raise quite a lot of sponsorship and we did the telephoning and letter writing ourselves. On one call I made, the person said they would go and get the manager and they put the phone down. I didn't call back."

Such experiences have added to the depth of learning for the P5s.

"It has been important for the children to have total ownership of the project," says Miss Flynn, a probationer at Sciennes who, along with her two colleagues, developed the idea of blending technology with enterprise for her P5 class.

"The children have to do a technical project this year, where they build a structure from wood that will move, and they also have to do an enterprise project. We decided to combine the two."

In doing so, they fed into almost every part of the curriculum and satisfied the four capacities of A Curriculum for Excellence, adds headteacher Alison Noble.

Deciding which charity to favour and the process of applying and interviewing for posts was done in personal and social education; writing out the instructions gave the children their first stab at formal writing; creating logos and posters came under ICT, while market research and financial projection was maths. And developing the kits was, of course, technology.

"We know that the kits are going to sell because the pupils did extensive market research at the early stages, and the children developed bar charts to show financial projections, which was lots of maths for them," says Miss Smith.

But it has not been easy collaborating across year groups in Sciennes, one of Edinburgh's larger primaries, with more than 600 pupils. There are 97 children in P5. The early stages were completed as individual classes, but with the children voting on all the major decisions, such as whose logo they would use and the name. They also decided collectively to use recycled school waste paper, shredded for packaging, and to source recycled boxes to put the kit in.

"We found the perfect company in the Box Shop in East Kilbride, which custom-made our boxes," adds Miss Flynn. "When we told them what it was for, the company donated the boxes free."

The pupils also took responsibility for raising sponsorship, identifying potentially generous local businesses and parents, and writing to them. The year group is as big as some primary schools, but still the pound;785 they managed to raise surprised both pupils and teachers, and has allowed them to consider additional promotional activities.

The pupils had decided early on to hold a race with prizes to encourage sales, but the sponsorship has allowed them to offer prizes for the best designs. They are also putting five golden tickets in five of the kit boxes, which will give the winners a tour of Edinburgh in a stretch limousine. Again, the idea came from one of the pupils

The boxes go on sale in the school this month. Now the race will give the pupils something to enjoy while Miss Flynn, Miss Ross and Miss Smith consider their next collaboration.

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