Getting Down To Business-BBC Ariel

Getting Down To Business-BBC Ariel

Saira Khan with pupils at Broad Oak Primary school in Manchester

"Are you rich?"

Laughter spreads through the school assembly, as Saira Khan replies to her young questioner, "I'm very happy and I think that's the important thing."

The former Apprentice runner-up is currently touring the UK with the team behind CBBC show Trade Your Way to the USA, giving business tips to 10,000 children and challenging them to generate money-making ideas.

They're stopping at 72 schools in 7 cities, and will finally wind down in Edinburgh next week.

For those who haven't caught TYW USA, it's like The Apprentice for 11-14s, but with better teamwork and less backbiting. Plus, after a series of tasks around the UK, the finalists get a trip to America for the last round.

Saira Khan with the Trade Your Way team Saira Khan shows it's about teamwork with Trade Your Way colleagues

The show has now jumped from screen to school to kick-start children's business skills as part of "enterprise education".

Louise Wordsworth, who executive produces TYW USA for Leopard Films, told Ariel: "A lot of employers are saying that students coming out of school don't have the skills to survive in the workplace.

"They don't understand profit margins and selling techniques, so it's about equipping our younger generation to succeed in business."

Student engagement

Nearly half the students at the Broad Oak assembly raise their hands when Khan asks if they watch The Apprentice or Dragons' Den.

Wordsworth adds: "It's interesting because, sometimes, they're eight-years-old and you're like, 'What are you doing watching tv at 9pm!' but they love it.

"So it's about using those programmes as a trigger to get them thinking and learning skills like negotiation and selling."

“Start Quote

If teachers get really behind the programme then you're on a winning streak”

End Quote Louise Wordsworth Executive producer

The project is supported by BBC Learning, which also develops roadshows for CBBC's natural history hit Deadly 60 and fulfils the 'educate' part of the corporation's mission.

After a full day of workshops, students pitch their business ideas to the programme team and teachers.

"We don't want to leave and then for the idea to end there," says Wordsworth. "We want them to carry on with their businesses and email us their photos and stories."

As part of the TYW USA schools challenge, students are advised to give profits to a good cause, although some also reinvest in further enterprise activity.

Having visited dozens of schools, Khan reckons that, "State primary schools are doing amazing jobs but I do think they lack the expertise to talk about enterprise. This is where, with the help of BBC Learning, putting in people who do this for a living, who are experts and bring it down so that children relate to it, is totally valuable."

The team have already visited a school which sells free-range eggs to the local community, and have met an eight-year-old boy who approached Build-A-Bear with the idea of selling Olympic-branded clothing for soft toys.

 Around 10,000 children in Key Stage 2 have received help from the TYW USA schools challenge

Wordsworth says they are focusing on younger students because "the advice we're getting - and it's something that Business Secretary Vince Cable has said - is you have to start at the primary level because once they've gone to secondary school, a lot of the time students are disengaged, they're switching off and it's about finding a spark within them now."

A former primary school teacher, she says: "The Scottish curriculum is far ahead of England in terms of what they do to support their students; they have an initiative called Determined to Succeed, so there's lot more support north of the border."

"The best schools we've been in so far are in London and they're in inner-city areas where the teachers are so passionate. You think perhaps it would be the schools from the better areas and yes, that does help, but if teachers get really behind the programme then you're on a winning streak."

The latest series of Trade Your Way to the USA will be repeated on CBBC during the summer.