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The Big 13 – Organisation & Planning

There are many occasions where existing school activities could be turned over to children to provide opportunities for them to develop invaluable management skills.

Planning and organisation is a key factor in the success of projects and activities. This includes being able to manage time and workload, being able to rank priorities and ration scarce resources against competing claims and the ability to take a project from an idea through to final product despite any obstacles that may arise. Children learn these skills best by ‘doing’, overcoming problems as they go, evaluating their experiences, identifying weakness and planning for improvement in the future.

Case Study: Laughton Junior and Infant School Book Fair

Enterprise Co-ordinator Gill Rugg decided to take a new approach to the school’s ‘flat and boring’ annual Book Fair. She put her mixed Year Five and Six group in charge of planning and organising the fair and set them a challenge – to attract more customers and raise more money in commission.

For two weeks the classroom turned into a hive of activity. Children brainstormed more 36 brilliant ideas to revive the fair. They identified problems with the old-style event, including parents having to leave early because younger children got tired and hungry. They wrote a business plan to the Head asking for a loan for refreshments. They also agreed there needed to be chairs and tables where people could relax and enjoy a drink. They said the hall was drab and decorated paper cloths to put on the tables and used some of their money for flowers to create a welcoming environment. And they identified jobs including ‘greeters’ and ‘helpers’ to ensure a high level of customer service at the event.

The children also planned and implemented a marketing assault at school. They analysed the previous fair’s figures and identified that the foundation classes hardly purchased any books. So they organised and delivered reading sessions during class and break times to encourage the younger children to engage with the books and get excited about the fair. Pupils also planned and delivered a presentation assembly where they promoted the fair by reading ‘teasers’ out of books, and told children they would have to come to the fair if they wanted to find out the ending. They made posters and leaflets, sent letters home and got extra posters and stickers from the Book Club.

By the time the fair arrived the whole school was buzzing with excitement. And because the children were motivated by seeing the daily sales sheets they maintained the momentum for the whole week. The event was a resounding success with sales rocketing and the foundation classes clearing the shelves of the books which the older children had marketed to them.

Gill ensured the children had proper time to reflect on the project, using evaluation sheets as the basis for discussion in class. She said:

“I was surprised at the strength of feeling and memory the children possessed. They identified lots of problems and issues that needed ironing out for next year, but they were thrilled with the new level of responsibility they had. The intensity of the experience came from them feeling like this was ‘theirs’ because they had organised it all. You could see it in lots of ways, right down to how they cleared away in the hall every night. It was their Book Fair, right down to the mess – they owned it.”