The Student Enterprise Awards (SEAs) is the biggest enterprise programme in the country, involving 17,000 secondary school students from 370 schools every year. The programme is open to students from 1st year right up to 6th year across junior, intermediate and senior categories. All 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) co-ordinate the programme locally, which runs throughout the academic year. By taking part in the Student Enterprise Awards, secondary school students get the opportunity and the supports to research, set-up and run their own businesses. All the resources and materials are provided, free of charge, by the Local Enterprise Offices to hundreds of teachers nationwide.
There’s also a competition element involved in the programme, through regional and national finals, with a big prize-fund on offer to winning schools and students. As the new academic year gets under way and the 2015/16 Student Enterprise Awards launch, we hear from three teachers from different parts of the country on their experience of taking part in the Programme.
Alan Whyte, Bishopstown Community School, Cork City;
“I have been running the Student Enterprise Awards (SEAs) programme with Transition Year students at my school – Bishopstown Community School in Cork City – for the past five years.
The programme provides great practical support for teachers, in particular, the expert guidance from the Local Co-ordinator during the year and the extra activities they provide such as organising speakers and mentors to come to our school to work with the students to motivate them and help them develop their projects.
The school has also benefitted from the media coverage of our student projects which the local LEO has organised and this has really helped raise the profile of the school in our community. As a teacher I have learned a lot myself from taking part in the SEAs and it has really allowed me to develop an innovative enterprise module at my school.
Pupils benefit greatly from the programme also. They get the opportunity to develop an idea into a tangible business and learn about everything that is involved in this process. The programme brings the curriculum alive for the students and shows them that they really can create their own successful business.”
Pádraig Mc Manus, Coláiste Éanna, Dublin “The Student Enterprise Awards programme has been running at our school for many years and is an integral part of our Transition Year business programme.
Most of our students who get involved are TYs but we also have some junior cycle business students who choose to enter the competition in their own time.
We have seen huge benefits for the school, the teachers and the students.
I can also see that the programme offered by the SEAs will form part of new junior certificate syllabus going forward.
One of the major ways I see the SEAs programme benefitting our students is that it challenges them very differently than how they are challenged in junior cert. TY students coming from an environment where the emphasis was on exam question preparation are offered the opportunity to be more creative through the SEAs programme – to come up with their own creative ideas, work as part of a team, make a profit and learn about how to interact with customers”.
Dana Byrne, Coláiste Iascaigh, County Sligo
“I am currently teaching in Colaiste Iascaigh in County Sligo. I have been teaching mini-company in the school for the past six years.
I find that by taking part in the SEAs I get a better insight into my students’ ability and the way they think and see things. As a teacher it gives me a chance to build a relationship with my students and they really see this as a fun task.
At Coláiste Iascaigh, we have reaped many benefits over the past six years from taking part in the SEAs programme. As teachers, we really find that it raises our students’ awareness about business and enterprise and instils in them a real confidence that they really can be entrepreneurs! It helps them put some of the theory that they learn in Junior Cert and Leaving Cert business into practice in real life situations so they can see their knowledge implemented in the real world.
I have also seen my students’ confidence rise as a direct result of taking part in the SEAs as they get great experience in public speaking, making decisions and dealing with customers. I would encourage any teacher to take part in the SEAs, and not just business teachers either. It is a great learning experience to see young minds come up with innovative ideas and how they turn them into businesses.”
For more information see ; www.studententerprise.ie
The new Student Enterprise Awards Programmefor 2015/2016 is now getting underway with free video resources and school materials available through ; www.studententerprise.ie Teachers are being encouraged to contact their Local Enterprise Offices, to register for the 2015/2016 programme, through www.localenterprise.ie.