3 weeks until the National Finals!

With only 9 days left to get their final submissions in, and 3 weeks until the National Finals at the Palace of Westminster on July 11th – how are the regions doing?

Development sessions in North England and Scotland.

It’s been a busy month since the Regional Finals back in May, but our North England and Scotland finalists have been working hard to perfect their Big Ideas!  I’ve been out and about across the region in these last few weeks delivering presentation skills training to our final teams and it has been such a pleasure to see them grow in confidence and self-belief.  We already know how passionate and dedicated these young people are from the regional finals, however they have really taken their presentations up a gear.   One finalist team I worked with are all aspiring doctors and told me that the set-backs they have overcome during their Big Ideas project has made them feel a lot more prepared to deal with challenges they will face on their way into medical school.

However, this time of year is not just about our finalists.  I’ve also had some fantastic debrief sessions with the teams whose journey in the competition has come to an end.  These new sessions have provided a great opportunity to chat through the skills developed by our regional finalists and how they think they can apply what they’ve learned in school and other projects.  It’s been lovely to hear that several teams want to keep working on their ideas or are buddying up to support the finalist team in their school.  Although the Big Ideas programme is a competition it’s important for all our teams to feel a sense of pride in what they have accomplished; completing a full business plan before your first set of high school exams is a HUGE achievement! The transferable skills developed during this process; tenacity, resilience, problem solving, and communication can be applied to so many other areas of life.

Dr. Jess Mitchell, Programme Coordinator North England and Scotland

Development sessions in the South East

3 teams from Solution for the Planet’s South East region have secured a place at the National Final and are working hard to amend their business plans and PowerPoints following the judges feedback from the regional finals. I’ve managed to visit all three finalist teams for debrief sessions which have been useful for the finalists but also for those that didn’t secure a place at the National Finals. I’ve been really impressed that some of these teams have decided to continue with their ideas despite not going through to the final. One of the teams who didn’t get through has even raised £90 at their School Sports day to buy equipment needed for their idea.

I’ll be delivering presentation training at all three of the schools over the next coming weeks.  I’m beyond excited to see all the teams from across the UK come together at the Palace of Westminster next month!

Charlotte Hosier, Programme Coordinator South East

Development sessions in the West Midlands

As we move into each ‘phase’ of the Big Ideas programme, I always think ‘This is my favourite part!’ – and, once again, we’re in ‘my favourite part’ of the whole process!  I have had a great time getting back into the schools once more, and have so far done a debrief session at three of my schools, with a fourth booked in for next week.  We always strongly encourage our schools to hold a debrief session for teams that don’t progress in the competition, in line with the Project-Based Learning approach we follow – it is so very important that they have this chance to go through their feedback, reflect on how much they’ve achieved and the skills they’ve acquired, and look at how they could continue to take their idea forward outside the competition.  And those schools that I’ve visited prove the value of this session, because so many of them were very receptive to their feedback and ARE intending to continue with their ideas.  They are still full of ideas and full of passion and I can’t wait to hear about their ideas coming to life!

As for my region’s four finalists – I’ve delivered presentation skills training to three of them, and I am SO impressed with how they are coming along – they haven’t sat back since the regional finals, and are working hard on their ideas.  They were receptive to the training and I have really great hopes for my West Midlands teams in the National Finals! I’m so proud of all of them.

Sarah Milburn, Programme Coordinator West Midlands

Thank you to all the teachers and business mentors nationwide who are continuing to support the teams for the finals.  Solutions for the Planet, our partners and MP sponsors are looking forward to welcoming the twelve teams to the Palace of Westminster on 11th July.  The teams will start their day with a tour of the Palace of Westminster before transferring over to Portcullis House for the official presentation and awards ceremony.  Good Luck with your final preparations, teams – your deadline for final draft business plans and presentation slides is 12:00 on Friday 29th June!