East Durham schools among winners at county enterprising competition

Talented students from two East Durham schools were among the winners at a county-wide enterprise competition.

At the Future Business Magnates (FBM) competition, Seaham High School was named Most Effective Team after developing the Wear Connecting Jigsaw, a Trade and Homework App.

And Dene Community School in Peterlee was awarded Best Prototype for  Powerpack, an environmentally friendly backpack that charges a mobile device through solar power and kinetic energy.

The overall winner was Farryhill Business and Enterprise College with their invention of a board game for Durham.

FBM, run by Business Durham, has helped bring the world of commerce to life for dozens of schools, pupils and businesses over the past few years. This year, judges were looking for a product or service which could change the way we live or work.

The winners, Ferryhill, supported by their business partners Jagdesign, came up with a board game based in Durham entitled ‘Fear the Wear’. St Bede’s School, in Lanchester, came second with ‘Connected Motion’ a dynamo skateboard that enables the rider to charge a mobile device, while Barnard Castle School in Teesdale, came third with their integrated housing solution for third world countries, MicroHood.

Mr Kevin Brennan, headteacher of Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College, said the competition gave students a glimpse of the real business world.

“This has been one of the most important experiences for them in their educational career,” he said. “It’s a credit to all the staff and students involved and we’re very proud of them. They’ve thrived working with their business mentors over the years and they couldn’t take part without their support.”

More than 30 leading lights from the business world, including Thorn Lighting, Dyer Engineering, Ebac, Hydram, Steelcraft, Atom Bank and Durham University, supported this year’s competition, partnering the 20 school teams and judging the six challenges of the programme.

Dr Gary Thompson, managing director of Jagdesign, based at NETPark, in Sedgefield, said it was great to give something back to Ferryhill – his former school.

“‘If we can encourage the business leaders of tomorrow and support them through their journey into the business community then we all succeed. It was good to work with some very talented young adults as they learned about business. The FBM project is a prime example of how connecting with industry can be rewarding for all participants.”

The theme for this year’s competition was Connecting County Durham, whether it was thinking how County Durham connects to the rest of the world or connecting up ideas to come up with amazing inventions.

Over the last eight months, pupils aged 12 and 13 worked with their business mentor to turn their bright ideas into produce a service or product.

Sarah Slaven, Business Durham Business Development Director, said: “Connections are really important in business and as the students have shown, connecting up ideas in different ways or applying them to different scenarios can lead to great inventions.  The end results of our competition have been fantastic and the students have shown yet again, just how bright, talented and inventive they are.”

Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “It is fantastic to see such innovation and imagination coming from the young people in our county. We are proud that here in Durham, schools from across the county are engaging with our business sector in this way and we are delighted that Business Durham is continuing to foster their enquiring minds as part of the Future Business Magnates competition.

“We hope that some of these young people will feel inspired to go onto careers in some of these industries and that we may well see them go on to even brighter futures here in the county with the companies they have been working with as part of this competition.”

The FBM awards event was also a night of triumph for a host of other category winners, including one category which was renamed in honour of the late Brian Manning, of Esh Group, who was one of the founders of the competition.

The category winners were:

  • Best Brand Name and Logo: Framwellgate School Durham, for Purple Otter – an App to connect Schools and Business. Business partner: Rainbows End Coaching Ltd
  • Best Environmental Business: Whitworth Park School, Spennymoor for Maxim-us Games, a box of traditional games to encourage young people to connect outside. Business partner: Blue Sky Think
  • Most Effective Team: Seaham High School, which developed Wear Connecting Jigsaw, a Trade and Homework App. Business partner: Andrew James Worldwide
  • Best Prototype: Dene Community School, Peterlee, for Powerpack, an environmentally friendly backpack that charges a mobile device through solar power and kinetic energy. Business Partner: Right Lines Communications
  •  Most Effective Use of Technology: Greenfield Community College Aycliffe Campus for Fusion – a website to promote and supply locally produced food products. Business partner: Franks Factory Flooring
  • Best Financial Plan: St John’s Catholic School & Sixth Form College, which devised Minuet, a music platform app to create and share your own music. Business partner: South Durham Enterprise Agency
  • Best Presentation: St Leonard’s Catholic School for City Leap – Durham Tourist App. Business partner: Filtronic
  • ·     The Brian Manning Award for Most Effective Use of Networks: Bishop Barrington School, which came up with Track-e-pet, a GPS Pet Monitor. Business Partner: CA Group

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