Pupils and staff from three schools have picked up £5,000 prizes after winning a hotly-contested competition in the Sentinel. Education reporter Kathie McInnes was at the Class Act awards, which were sponsored by Barclays
NINE-YEAR-OLD Jenefer Steel could almost be describing a scene from the film Chicken run as she tells the audience about the feathered friends with attitude at her school.
“We feed them, clean them out and make sure they don’t get run over.
“They sometimes escape and go through the hedge to the better grass side,” she said.
The peckish chickens are also partial to nibbling food from children’s lunch boxes, waddling around with their muddy feet, and fluffing their feathers out to let humans know who’s boss.
Jenefer, a pupil at Oxhey First School, in Biddulph, helps look after the brood of chickens, which lives in the school grounds.
Now youngsters at the school are planning to install a gate by the coop so they can stop the six birds from escaping and causing mayhem.
Oxhey will be putting part of its £5,000 prize money towards the security features after being named as one of the three winning schools in the Sentinel’s Class Act competition.
The rest of the cash will go towards transforming a tired old school courtyard, near to the chicken enclosure, into an eco garden.
It will include stepping stone paths, a covered walkway, planters and a vegetable plot.
Pupils plan to grow their own produce to sell on to parents and the local community.
And they are even considering marketing their vegetable business online.
Jenefer, from Biddulph, said: “Instead of eBay, we could call it eSeed.”
Teacher Jessica Mayer said the project had really captured the children’s interest and would also give them a “lovely garden” to look after and enjoy at break-times.
The pupils already sell eggs to school staff. In future, profits from vegetable sales will be ploughed back into the eco-garden and meeting the care needs of the chickens.
The plans were outlined at the Class Act awards ceremony, which was held at the Moat House Hotel, in Etruria, yesterday.
The Sentinel’s head of community contacts Martin Tideswell compèred the event.
Also attending were pupils and staff from the two other winning schools – Madeley High and St Werburgh’s CE Primary, in Kingsley, near Cheadle.
Each of these schools were also presented with a cheque for £5,000.
The annual competition, sponsored by Barclays Money Skills, attracted more than 50 entries from schools across Staffordshire and South Cheshire this year.
They were challenged to come up with projects to improve school life and nurture young people’s financial skills.
Pupils at St Werburgh’s will be spending their prize money on creating a publishing business.
They will be turning stories they have written themselves into paperbacks, e-books and podcasts.
Alfie Walford, aged 11, from Kingsley, said: “It’s a really good project because not many schools have got e-books. It’s like standing out from the crowd, being the first school to create one.”
The youngsters will be launching themselves on to the literary scene with an anthology of stories they have penned about Moorlands life.
It will include tales of time-travelling adventures in Kingsley and factual pieces about the area’s heritage.
Alfie said: “I really like writing. It gives you a chance to express yourself.”
St Werburgh’s is creating a school ‘app’, which people can use to purchase the e-books and download them on to their mobile phones and computers. the Class Act money will also cover printing costs and audio-visual equipment for podcasting.
Children hope to produce books each term and sell them to parents. they will also be offering their services to other schools, which want to publish e-books too.
Associate headteacher Alex Brayford said: “This will give them the chance to be future entrepreneurs, as well as authors. We’ve got some incredibly talented writers.”
At Madeley High, young people are also planning their own business as they will be opening up a shop based in an insulated wooden hut in the school grounds.
It will stock essential items for other pupils to buy, such as pens, pencils, rulers, revision guides, notebooks and calculators. In the summer, they will also sell ice-creams.
And throughout the year it will quite literally be a shop window for pupils to sell products they have designed and made at school.
Youngsters will be able to test the market to see if their inventions are commercially viable.
Teenagers have already created mobile phone and iPad holders, seasonal novelties for Easter and Christmas, school calendars and personalised mugs.
Fourteen-year-old Josie Alderman, from Ashley, said they were also planning to stock copies of the Sentinel in their shop.
She added: “Running it will help us to learn financial skills and we will have a real till. We can learn about things like profits.”
Pupils plan to hold regular meetings to review sales figures, draw up future budgets and decide which product lines to invest in or drop.
Each school house will have the chance to manage the shop on a rota basis and some of the profits will be given away to their house’s chosen charity.
Hannah Bostock, aged 13, from Madeley Heath, said: “We will also be loaning out PE kits from the shop if people have forgotten their own.”
Andy Mayers, head of technology at Madeley High, said: “It’s about playing shop for real.”
Steve Mitchell, area director for Barclays, praised the ingenuity of the young people at the three winning schools and said they were chosen from a strong field of Class Act entries.
He added: “Barclays has been working with the Sentinel for the past five years on the Class Act competition.
“Each year, we have been staggered by the projects and the work that has gone into it.”