Turning ideas into reality

15th August 2008 at 01:00

Why has a charity which supports disadvantaged and disaffected schoolchildren suddenly begun working with sixth-year students in independent schools - who are in general neither?

It's a story with two threads that has come together in the Scholar's Challenge, a new initiative from The Prince's Trust which sees senior students at eight Scottish schools, three from the independent sector, aiming to raise Pounds 20,000 each for charity. "We know it can be done, because last year we set five firms of solicitors the same target, in a challenge called the Lion's Den," says Alison Taylor, the trust's corporate fundraising manager. "In the end, they turned Pounds 3,000 each, which we gave them at the start, into a total of Pounds 300,000."

It is certainly impressive, but it's surely asking a lot of schoolchildren, no matter how senior, to match the fund-raising exploits of commercial operators with well-heeled contacts?

Not at all, says Ms Taylor, which is where the second thread of the story comes in, with a trust-supported project at Bishopbriggs Academy, in which a dozen third-year pupils have taken an ambitious concept through to rewarding reality: "They designed and built a nine-hole adventure golf course behind the school."

That combination of business savvy and youthful enthusiasm worked so well that the trust realised it was a learning model with legs. "In the Scholar's Challenge, we put inspirational entrepreneurs together with groups of 16 to 17-year-olds," she says. "Then we provide project managers to teach techniques for turning ideas into reality. What a dynamic combination that is going to be."

The Prince's Trust is giving teams of 10 to 15 senior pupils at each of the following schools six months to turn Pounds 3,000 into Pounds 20,000: Bishopbriggs Academy, Broughton High, Dollar Academy, Larkhall Academy, Lenzie Academy, Lomond School, Madras College and Merchiston Castle School.

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