Rushi Millns, Head of ICT, Careers and Outreach, reveals how Heathfield School, Ascot teaches business and entrepreneurship to embed real skills for life

An inspiring education should extend beyond academic achievement. At Heathfield we believe that teaching young people about business and entrepreneurship is crucial if we are to draw out their potential and encourage them to develop into well-rounded individuals. 

To embed real skills for life – smart thinking, resilience, resourcefulness, networking and the ability to plan, to name but a few – we provide students with a myriad of opportunities across a diverse range of industries and initiatives. From Fashion to Philanthropy, and from Politics to Sustainability, we open our students’ minds to possibilities through our expert speaker programme, Independent Learning and enterprise projects, our bi-annual Fashion show, PSHE workshops, and structured careers programme.

Expert advice

Our varied speaker programme gives students invaluable insight into a wide range of industries – speakers we have invited include the VIP costumier from the Royal Opera House, Vogue journalists and space scientist Dr Suzie Imber.

Alongside an inspiring talk, Dr Imber ran two workshops about the solar system to which pupils from local mixed school Garth Hill were also invited. 

Fostering self-believe

We regularly invite former Heathfield students who have excelled in business to share their stories, a powerful way to encourage current students to aim high and believe in themselves. 

Alumna Caroline Baker spoke to our students about founding her phenomenally successful eponymous business – providing family office and property development services – which now operates across London, Paris and New York. Caroline’s ‘can-do’ attitude, resilience and resourcefulness in the face of challenges resonated with our students; she attributes her mastery of these in large part to her time at Heathfield.

A passion for fashion

Strong industry links with the London College of Fashion have led to an ongoing stream of talent from Heathfield entering the sector, including fashion model Amber Le Bon, designer Tamara Mellon and the late British patron of fashion and art Isabella Blow. Our bi-annual Fashion Show not only gives art students a fantastic chance to showcase their creativity, but also acts as a springboard for developing a host of business and entrepreneurial skills, such as planning, time management, troubleshooting and presentation.

A huge networking opportunity for the students and industry professionals, this year’s show was directed by Stephen Lisseman, former Creative Director for Karl Lagerfeld and Gucci, who gave the students insider knowledge of the industry and tips on how their creativity can translate into the world of work.

Enterprising minds

Innovation and flexible thinking are vital in today’s fast-changing working world where multiple careers are increasingly common. We encourage these skills through our Independent Learning Projects. Students spend two full days immersed in finding creative solutions to a given challenge and are involved in all aspects of bringing the project to fruition – budgeting, marketing, timing, insurance, customer feedback, and mitigating risks. Our Form III students, for example, recently planned a prom on the theme of sustainability, stretching themselves to ‘think outside the box’ to devise innovative solutions.

In our PSHE lessons, we run dedicated workshops on marketing, budgeting, finance and insurance, as well as creating business cards and developing networking skills.

Enterprise projects such as a ‘mini Dragons’ Den’ and Tycoon in Schools, run by entrepreneur Peter Jones, have allowed students to tap into their creativity whilst also developing resilience and learning how to present their ideas coherently and persuasively. 

Careers guidance

To maximise students’ post-school opportunities, it is vital to provide careers advice that is relevant and individualised. Our careers programme, using a specialist careers service that includes individual and independent careers interviews, follows each student throughout her time at Heathfield, providing continuity and a framework for careers discussions, identifying interests, strengths and aptitudes and helping to define a path that will ultimately lead her to achieve her career goals.

As educators, it is our job not only to impart knowledge, but also to inspire, give guidance and create opportunities to allow students to find their fortes and flourish.

If you enjoyed this article, why not read ‘How to encourage girls in STEM subjects‘?