UKs Biggest Schools Business Challenge 2018

The Ryman National Enterprise Challenge Finals saw 1,400 youngsters, aged 11-15 from across the UK take part in pitching their ideas to a judging panel which included Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis and the TES editor.

Theo said that enterprise must be “at the heart” of education so that schoolchildren can learn the right skills for their future careers.

The successful businessman said that the future was “looking positive” after 50,000 UK youngsters took part this year in the UKs largest ever schools enterprise challenge.

Pupils from Northampton Academy and De Ferrers Academy in Staffordshire won the two top awards in their  age group.

They were picked as the best from 160 schools taking part in the grand finals by Theo Paphitis and the judging panel,

The team from Northampton Academy won the KS3 challenge with their design for a YouTube advert of a new activity for KidZania’s Indoor City at Westfield Shopping Centre, London.

While De Ferrers Academy’s idea for a “Back to School” marketing campaign for a Ryman store won the KS4 challenge. They will have their plan launched at a Ryman store. Wimbledon High School was highly commended and invited to meet Theo in London for talks on marketing an idea for a new pencil case.

The competition was hosted at the Telford International Centre in Shropshire by Perri Kiely and Jordan Banjo, members of the Diversity dance group who won Britain’s Got Talent and hosted the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

Theo Paphitis told youngsters packed into the auditorium:Ryman National Enterprise Challenge

“The Ryman National Enterprise Challenge highlights just how important it is to build the confidence of our future generations by helping them learn the right skills for the careers of the future. It’s crucial to put enterprise at the heart of education and with talent like today coming through, the future’s looking positive.” 

2017 Apprentice winner James White said:

“I never had the experience at school to talk to a panel of judges and pitch an idea. This challenge is fabulous. They had better ideas than we dreamed up in the Apprentice.”

It was the sixth annual challenge organised by businessmen Ben and Michael Dyer who want to inspire the next generation and give them the business skills to “open doors” to a brighter future as both entrepreneurs and employees.

They grew up on a “Benefits Street” housing estate in Stoke and came up with the idea for the challenge after overhearing two well dressed businessmen in a café saying that young people were not ready for the world of work when they left school.

“People had been saying that pupils don’t have the skills to enter the world of work but 200,000 have learned new business skills over the past six years of this challenge and they are turning the tide with their increased knowledge,” said Ben, who with cousin Michael, run the Inspirational Learning Group for schools, colleges and universities.

Ryman National Enterprise ChallengeDe Ferrers teacher Charlotte Wear said:

"The challenge was an invaluable experience and opportunity for students who presented an “astonishing” pitch to judges after hours of preparation and teamwork which showed their outstanding dedication, commitment and drive.Students developed skills to support university study and the world of work with the team showing entrepreneurial skills resulting in a professional and winning pitch."

“It is one of the proudest moments of my teaching career to date, and something that will stay with me for the rest of my teaching career. Thank you to all at the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge for giving students this amazing opportunity and experience.It allowed them to embed their knowledge of key concepts and business terms and reach a level of professionalism, confidence and challenge that the classroom doesn't always allow students to be subjected to.” 

Northampton Academy pupil Sahib Khatkar said:

“When we first arrived at the venue we could tell the competition would be fierce. People had face paint, personalised T-shirts and more. However we were confident that Astrotech was going to bring the win home. Presenting our pitch in front of hundreds of people was daunting but when we won, not only were we ecstatic but we felt that as a team, a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders.”

 Northampton Academy Principal Nat Parnell said:Ryman National Enterprise Challenge

“We believe that developing student character is essential for academic success. We strive to be an academy of character and excellence.  This means we encourage our students to get wholeheartedly involved in initiatives, just like the national enterprise challenge, that help to develop a wider set of attributes such as initiative, creativity and public speaking.

He congratulated both of the school’s teams involved in ‘Astrotech’ and ‘Go Prepare’ for their very entertaining and thought-provoking presentations. He also praised a special award made at the event to the school’s Head of Careers Karen Betty.

“Her valuable work in careers guidance over the years has made a considerable difference to students and helped to prepare them for success in the next stages of their lives.”

A total of 50,000, 11 to 15-year-olds from UK schools entered the challenge this year, resulting in 1,400 getting through to the finals with ten teams challenging for the top spot.

To enter your school next year in The Ryman National Enterprise Challenge, visit the