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Nov 24, 2015

A twist on the Young Enterprise Scheme

We chat to Diana Reid from Hawera High School about how they’re running the YES programme with their special needs students.

Hawera 1

What is your experience with YES and how have you
run it in the past?
We’ve done YES for many years. It started as an extracurricular
programme, but we found students were looking for a subject that
was new, different and challenging. Students wanted to run their
own course and be in control of what was happening. YES fits all of
those requirements.


What has influenced you to run YES among the
special needs students?
I have always maintained that YES can suit any level of student – you
don’t have to be Einstein to run a business. These students were
looking for subjects to integrate into the school. YES was a perfect
one as students can work in a team, it is less regimented – they
aren’t just sitting in a desk and talking; they can work as a team and
also can be very successful.


Can you please describe your YES team this year?
They’re called the Pot Plant Pixies, a team of four students. They vary
in ability, one student can read and three students who can’t read but
are perfectly capable of putting their succulents into pot plants.
They learn to integrate into the lessons with the other students, they
learn to work alongside the students in other teams, and they come
to all of the events as well.


What parts of YES do the students complete?
I want them to follow the YES programme at their level, because it makes
sense. They are very proud of the documents that they produce as well,
for example they often show people their business cards. They need to
experience success as well, and they do it through that way. They also
learnt how to present their business plan orally, and they all stood up in
front of the judges at Dragons Den, and all of them said something.


What have these students gained through doing YES?
The most important thing is the sense of achievement these students
have gained. They also really enjoy the integration with the YES class
and getting to interact with the other students.

I asked one student the same question and she said: “When we’re
selling, people were talking to us”. That’s really important to them.
It lowers a barrier. They attended the Trade Fair in New Plymouth
and they dressed up in fairy skirts and wings and they got lots of
customers because they’re out there and they don’t have the same
sort of social restraints as normal teenagers.


Can you explain a little bit around how you’ve run the YES
programme with the students? How much time a week are they
spending on it both on their own and with the regular YES class?
These students come to class four times a week, and then they
use time in the Endeavour Centre to pot their plants and they go
downtown during the day to sell their plants. So they have a lot of
extra time on top of when they go to class.

They use it to talk about their maths and their reading; they use it
as another tool for learning as well. They’re also considered quite
important in the Endeavour Centre as well, where they’re part of the
team. This makes the team feel very special.


From a teaching point of view what are the main challenges of
working with these students?
Fitting them in the classroom, tending to their needs and that of the
other students at the same time. It’s often hard to balance the two
groups. They’re also not competing in the national competition as
such, they just do the programme, and so I’m always a bit nervous
of what HQ thinks when marking their annual reviews in Wellington! I
don’t like them to be singled out, but they also don’t understand the
competition in lots of ways. I’m not sure if you asked them if they’d
understand how to run a business. But they do feel included.


How might YES help these students when they finish school?
We thought that they were the kind of students that may need to
run a craft business in the future – we need to give them some skills
because they may not be employed in their lives. In fact these skills
are really necessary for them. Maybe as part of a craft cooperative
when they leave school. We’re giving them some skills for that.

I want to thank the Young Enterprise Trust for all of the hard work
that they do, I think that it is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. We really
appreciate it, we have 30 students go through here a year and they
get so much out of it.