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Business success for CBA Unit students on joint project with Northampton students

The Unit at Corby Business Academy provides high quality care and specialist provision for students with special educational needs. It is an active and thriving part of the school where students are taught in classrooms within the Unit and designated classrooms in three faculties.  Students also integrate within the main school, using shared facilities including the library, food technology room, sports hall and restaurant.

An ongoing success has been the ‘Happy Hands’ group, a business company that competes in the Young Enterprise Team Programme. Here the students make and sell products at a range of trade fairs and venues and each student is assigned a role in the team at the start of the academic year. 

This year Happy Hands has been really successful, coming second nationally in the Best Logo Competition and second nationally in the Best Trade Stand competition. One of the students, Blake, Managing Director, from The Bee Hive, has won the Sir John Moores’ Award for East Midlands Region.  Young Enterprise has introduced Company of the Year Award and Happy Hands are still in the running for this national award.

It is the first time that Happy Hands has joined forces with students from The Bee Hive in Northampton and so they updated their logo to reflect the collaboration. Sixth Form students visit each other’s school on a weekly basis, taking part in the Young Enterprise Team Programme at CBA and accessing an expressive arts day at The Bee Hive.  This is all part of the Sixth Form Consortium, run by Northamptonshire Special Schools and Units, to help students access a more personalised curriculum and prepare them for moving on.

Teacher Nikki Clark said: ‘This is our seventh year that CBA students have taken part in the Young Enterprise Team Programme, but it is the first year that we have done it as a joint venture with another school. Our signature product is our teacup candle so we wanted to design and develop an item linked with that. The students all love cakes and cooking so we decided on a recipe booklet.  This would give the students the opportunity to develop their life skills alongside teamwork and communication skills.  The group tried out different recipes and produced the booklet containing their favourites. There are 17 recipes including salted caramel cupcakes, chocolate and fruit cakes. Business Advisers Donna and Bonnie from RS Components come in to school termly to help the team and give advice.’

Happy Hands had 400 recipe books printed that are selling for £3 each at local events and to staff, friends and family. Profits have been used to buy a camera for the team to record their experiences and help to make their final presentation as well as been earmarked for a staff party for the team, enrichment activities for students and pay the shareholders dividends at the end of the school year.

Mair, a teaching assistant at The Bee Hive said: ‘It has been really nice for our students to come over to CBA as it is a big school and an enormous experience to be partly in a mainstream school, to go to the restaurant and navigate around. It gives them a whole level of independence and they all have their own swipe cards, can access the computer and email systems here.’

Ms Clark said: ‘Happy Hands is really great for teamwork and social interaction. It is preparing students for adulthood, giving them an understanding of money and negotiation skills.  Their communication skills are really coming on too! The dynamics have changed as they are working with students from The Bee Hive but all the students are great.  They have established good relationships with everybody here and it has been a positive experience for all.’