ENTERPRISING students impressed a panel of industry experts with their innovative and ecological thinking in an annual challenge to find the next generation of business leaders.

Reading apps to boost learning, a bike-mounted, self-projecting cycle lane and a dual-purpose gum massager and toothbrush were among a host of novel ideas as the Emmanuel Schools Foundation harnessed the power of Year 9 thinking.

For the first time, the ESF Business Game brought together students from the recently enlarged trust, which now includes Emmanuel College and Grace College, Gateshead, Bede Academy, Blyth, The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, Christ’s College, Sunderland, and Trinity Academy, Thorne, near Doncaster.

Hosted by Emmanuel College, 12 teams of up to five students, two from each academy, pitched their ideas to a panel of industry experts after spending a week off curriculum to research and hone their presentations.

The panel comprised Ian Dormer, of Rosh Engineering Ltd, Gareth Kane, of Terra Infirma, Simon Goon, of Umi, and Matthew Lumsden, of Connected Energy.

ESF Judges2: The judges, Matthew Lumsden, of Connected Energy, Simon Goon, of Umi, Gareth Kane, of Terra Infirma and Ian Dormer, of Rosh Engineering Ltd

The competition was open to Year 9 students across the trust with the best ideas being put forward for the final. Teams had just eight minutes to impress judges with their innovations, business plans, costings and marketing strategies.

Five of the 12 teams were then invited back for further questioning before the judges retired to consider the winners.

These included Christ’s College’s Read.app, which analysed literacy rates and recommended appropriate books to improve reading; Trinity Academy’s recyclable cutlery made from husk for the fast food industry; The King’s Academy’s Chewgella, a dual purpose gum soother/toothbrush moulded into a variety of animal images with corresponding gels; Emmanuel College’s Eco-analyser, which identified recyclable plastics; and Grace College’s Hat-Nav, a hi-tech cycle helmet.

Judge Ian Dormer told students: “We have been enthralled by everything we have heard, particularly the maturity you have shown, your innovative ideas and the disciplined and thorough manner with which you have followed the brief.”

First place went to Christ’s College’s Read.app. Team member Charlotte Miller said: “We are delighted to have won, especially as it is the first time our school has taken part in the ESF Business Game. We really enjoyed every aspect of it, especially being off-diary for a week.”

Runners-up were students from Trinity College with their disposable cutlery, with their classmates gaining a special mention for their idea for a self-projecting bike lane for cyclists.

Competition organiser Stephen Robson, who is head of business and community at Emmanuel College, said: “All the teams produced some very good work and a host of great ideas which they presented competently and confidently.

“They have gained so much from the experience in terms of being able to structure their own time, work as a team, improve presentation skills and gain a huge amount of confidence and self-esteem.”


Bede Academy in Blyth has become one of the first schools in the country to be recognised for its work to develop good character in young people.

The academy has been awarded the national ‘School of Character Kitemark’ and described as “a terrific example” of best practice in encouraging and supporting positive qualities in its students.

The award, which considers the culture, ethos and practical examples of character development     across the academy, has been developed in response to growing recognition of the role of character education in successful schools.

Andrew Thelwell, Principal of Bede Academy, said:

“Bede Academy, as part of the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, aims to be a ‘Character First’ Academy. We are delighted to have been recognised as a place of learning that places primary importance on the development of our character, for both students and staff, as much as on academic excellence. This kitemark rightly recognises the commitment of all members of Bede Academy to ensuring the continued development of our core values of Honourable Purpose, Humility, Compassion, Integrity, Accountability, Courage and Determination.”

Gary Lewis, founding member and chair of the Association of Character Education, thanked academy staff for their commitment.

“The Schools of Character Kitemark is awarded to schools that can demonstrate that they take an explicit, planned and reflective approach to the cultivation of positive character qualities in their pupils in the interests of human flourishing. Bede Academy is a terrific example and it is with great pleasure that we welcome the academy with a proven strength at developing the character of their young people,” he said.


Association panel members made an evaluation visit to the academy last year, including interviewing a cross section of staff and students, and agreed that key features of high-quality character education provisions was clearly demonstrated at Bede.

Key traits identified include kindness, empathy, positive and caring relationships, the calm and purposeful environment and the ability of students to make reasoned and right choices.

One of the assessors, Geoff Smith, added:

“The leadership and commitment provided by the heads of both the senior and primary years at Bede Academy, coupled with strong and committed support from other senior leaders, have ensured a community where values and a focus on equality are placed at the core of all activities and provision, both in the curriculum and the co-curriculum.

“The Academy has a clearly understood Christian ethos that permeates the life of the school in a most obvious way. Pupils and staff alike were comfortable and articulate when describing how the values promoted by the school impact on their daily lives and were able to provide many examples, without prompting, of how these values impacted on both achievement and behaviours.”

A record number of runners turned out for a regular Saturday morning exercise session, thanks to primary children from an academy in Blyth.

Students as young as three and four from Bede Academy took part in the weekend Parkrun at Blyth Links, taking the total to more than 400 runners.

Many students and their parents joined the run, with volunteers from the academy staff helping out on the course.

Principal of Bede South Bethan Harding, who was among the volunteers, said: “The run had its highest ever attendance including 164 new runners because so many of our students and their parents attended. Even nursery students completed the 5k in the rain and wind. Seeing their determination was an inspiration.

“We try to instil the benefits of exercise, as well as the importance of service to others, in our students from a very early age so this was a great opportunity to do both at once, while having a fun time with the Bede Academy community.

“We hope many of those running for the first time will now take up the activity as a way of keeping fit and being part of the wider community.”

Bede student Harrison Craig said: “I enjoyed running with my family. It was fun spotting all of the teachers on the way round. I felt good at the finish.”

Seth Smiles added: “I enjoyed having my school there – it was the best Parkrun ever!’

Neeve Hindmarsh added: “It was my first Parkrun and my mum and I are going to make it a regular thing.”

Mrs Harding added: “Jill Thompson, the event co-director did an excellent job supporting our staff volunteers and they were pleased to be thanked and to be told the feedback received by the organisers was incredible.”

Representatives of 22 different running clubs took part in the Parkrun with 25 regulars achieving personal best times.