Every year The Skinners’ Kent Academy puts on a special project for its Year 7 students in order to develop their career skills. This year it has teamed up with local developer Elysian Residences for an enterprise competition not unlike that of the hit BBC show Dragons’ Den.
A total of 240 students across eight Year 7 tutor groups were put into six teams per class, with the aim of coming up with a retail or leisure proposal for one of the commercial ground floor units at Elysian’s retired living development ‘The Belvedere’, which is being built on the former ABC cinema site in the centre of Tunbridge Wells.
Each year the Year 7 students are challenged with a similar type of task, but this was the first year that the theme was based on an actual scheme in the local community.
The students learned about Elysian’s plans for the development, its history and exciting future, as well as thinking about an innovative commercial offer to serve the scheme’s residents.
Elysian provided a number of tasks and practical challenges for the students, which included thinking about what each scheme would sell, how it would be promoted, the issue of sustainability and also general logistics.
Each of the six study groups voted for one member per class to pitch against the ‘Dragons’, who comprised: Mark Curry, Head of Land & Development at Elysian Residences; a trio of school governors – David Fitzsimmons, Hugo Pound and Gillian Arthur; and James Moysey and Peter Hockney from the Kent County Council [KCC] planning team, who worked on The Belvedere project throughout the planning application and consent.
Rebecca Pointer, Careers, Education Information and Guidance Co-ordinator at The Skinners’ Kent Academy, said: “It was great to have a real-life project that is coming to our Tunbridge Wells community to focus this year’s Dragons’ Den challenge around.
“The students not only got to learn valuable team building and life/career skills, but also to understand more about Elysian Residences, the various roles associated with planning and development, and what The Belvedere will bring to Royal Tunbridge Wells itself.
“It was also great to show our Year 7s that 65 year olds can be active and are not necessarily ‘retirees’, but people who will play a great role in our town and be a core part of the community.
“We would like to thank Mark and the Elysian team for giving us valuable time and insight, and, of course, the Governors and the KCC planning team.”
Mark Curry, Head of Land and Development at Elysian Residences, said: “As developers and operators of The Belvedere, we are keen to build long-term relationships with the Tunbridge Wells community. This was a great opportunity to team up with a school to build understanding and careers skills early on.”
The winners of the competition (who were rewarded with a certificate and house points) were 7b1, whose pitch was an eco-café.
The runners up were 7b2, who wanted to launch a cooking school which would offer classes to The Belvedere residents alongside the broader Tunbridge Wells community.