July 6, 2008

Ex-Pupils Doing the Business at School

By Adam Blakeman

Staff and pupils have celebrated the fifth anniversary of their school becoming a specialist business and enterprise centre.

Guest speakers including representatives from Make Your Mark, a national organisation which campaigns to unlock enterprise potential in young people, and David Hyner, an international motivational speaker, helped to mark the occasion at Sandon High School in Meir, yesterday.

The school won Government cash in February 2003 to create a major business and enterprise centre of excellence, to train up hundreds of young entrepreneurs to help transform Stoke-on-Trent's economy and kick-start new businesses.

Former pupils Ben Dyer and Matt Smith were invited back to their former school yesterday as examples of success stories.

Ben, aged 22, who lives in Sandcrest Walk, Meir, has set up Altogether Group, with his cousin, Michael, which offers Dragon's Den-style sessions for schoolchildren aimed at boosting their business acumen. Ben launched the firm with the help of a pounds4,000 grant from the Prince's Trust and will run it from offices at Staffordshire University's business village as part of his degree.

Matt, aged 22, recently launched Biddulph Moor-based IT support business Strawberry Square.

Both men say the school played a huge part in them having the confidence to create their own businesses.

Ben said: "It was Sandon which got me interested in business. I was always encouraged to do a bit more; the teachers did not let me just get by.

"I have taken with me a lot of the advice I received at school, and am now using it with the business."

Matt, who lives in Stoney-fields, Biddulph Moor, said: "I've always been interested in IT, but the school really helped me push myself and get to where I am now.

"It's a great place to learn and I'm sure a lot of the current pupils will go on to set up their own businesses and be successful."

Other events to mark the school's celebration included a performance by Eat 5, a company set up by Year 10 pupils to promote the Government's "five-a-day" scheme. They performed their song "Broccoli Rock" with 30 pupils from Grange Primary.

The event attracted around 160 guests, including members of The British Chamber Of Commerce.

Headteacher Barbara Hall said: "I get frustrated when people talk down the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

"The young people of this city have a fantastic, raw energy and enthusiasm which is second to none in this country.

"Our aim is to educate people who are then going to go on and take this city forward."

Year 10 pupil Amie Brady said: "The school has progressed and developed through time. It has helped me in many ways."

Dave Silvera, also in Year 10, said: "Personally, I am not going to get into business, though the school has made me work harder and want to achieve more."

(c) 2008 Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.