The 'Our Way' trade experiment
In 2013, Plymstock School commissioned the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) to partner with a group of Year 10 students to increase the level of engagement in foreign languages in the school. The result of this project was Our Way, an award-winning social enterprise designed, developed and delivered by the students.
From the outset, the team knew that they wanted to use the opportunity to create a professional business, and not just a school project. They created Our Way, an international trade company that works with small and medium-sized enterprises in south-west England, raising their profile in the UK and introducing their products or services to the French market.
The team has succeeded in working with five companies from south-west England, introducing their products to France and gaining them regional, national and international exposure.
Taking languages out of the classroom
“To have the opportunity to use the language that we learned in our classroom in a real situation and to be able to help real businesses in the South West was amazing!" (Lauren Peel, Our Way team member)
Our Way encourages young people to value the importance of languages by applying them to real-life situations.
It has been a fantastic journey of exploration, learning and growth for the team who is passionate about social enterprise and foreign languages, and the doors that both can open.
They decided that developing skills in a European language - in this case, French - and an understanding of social enterprise gave them the opportunity to broaden their horizons and gain a competitive advantage in the job market.
Our Way has gained a huge amount of national recognition as the team takes French outside of the classroom and beyond the school gates to use it in a purposeful way.
The team have had many successes with the project but three tremendous highlights are:
- November 2013 – Plymouth Social Enterprise Network (PSN) identified the team as winners of the ‘International Market Builders’ and they were awarded this title by Nick Temple, Director of Business for Social Enterprise UK.
- February 2014 – Our Way featured in an All Party Parliamentary Group White Paper as an example of how the UK education system could be fit for an entrepreneur.
- September 2014 – the Our Way team was awarded this year’s prize for the British Academy Schools Language Awards. They were also shortlisted for overall award within the mainstream school category.
These accolades are real recognition of the hard work, commitment and dedication that the group of young students had to growing their enterprise.
The team hopes to eventually work with all of Plymstock’s feeder primary schools as well as develop relationships with schools across the UK. They want to bring about big national change, demonstrating to students around the UK the enormous benefits of linking languages and enterprise.