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Enterprise programme gets students down to real business

Date 12 Dec 2007

Students who took part in an enterprise education programme have taken the plunge and turned their classroom idea into a real trading business. Panda Productions, a company set up by 12 A-Level pupils from St Benet Biscop RC School in Bedlington, Northumberland won the Young Enterprise North East (YENE) Company of the Year regional finals earlier this year.

Their business concept of a book written by children, for children, called Panda Says, features a character called Patchy the Panda. It has secured them the YENE Company of the Year title and the group of teenagers have now registered their company for real.

During the YENE programme, Panda Productions secured a £1000 grant from Northumberland LEA to further develop the materials. The book has also been translated to Arabic and Polish to test the possibility of using Panda Says to support children with English as a second language.

Following the YE national finals the students and teaching staff wanted to establish the business for real. St Benet Biscop secured support from Wansbeck Enterprise Centre and funding from Wansbeck Enterprise Opportunities Fund to create a social enterprise called Benet Enterprises Ltd. Panda Productions is continuing to trade under this ‘umbrella' which acts as an incubation unit to help small enterprises created within school.

Cheryl Cutting, St Benet Biscop's business and enterprise link teacher, said: "The company is now going from strength to strength. It is an incredibly strong product and Benet Enterprises Ltd effectively allows the Panda Productions students to continue with their business within the context of a social enterprise."

Ruth Elliott (17), Panda Productions IT director, said: "I have learnt a lot about what it's like working in a team, I've been able to enhance my communication skills and it has given us an insight into the world of business. We now hope to move the business forward and make it a success nationally." 

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