Students get a taste of business at Didcot Railway Centre

What do you get when you host a business breakfast at a school, then mix in a little ‘Dragon’s Den’-style competition and some vegetarianism? A trip to Didcot Railway Centre to learn more about business may not be the most obvious answer but it was precisely the fantastic outcome for four talented students from Didcot Girls’ School.   


On Friday 11th March, Didcot Girls School hosted a business breakfast supported by their Enterprise Adviser, Mike Foster. Mike has been matched with the school by O2i Opportunities to Inspire, as part of the nationwide Enterprise Adviser network funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company to inform and inspire young people about their futures. 


Mike runs business network meetings in Oxfordshire and the idea for opening the school’s doors to Didcot’s local business community was one that he and Stuart George – Head of Personal Development at the school – could instantly see the benefits of. In an effort to break down the perceived barrier between school and the business community, hosting a breakfast where students could be involved seemed the perfect way forward. Additionally, in the build up to the event, all students entered a competition in teams to create a business idea and proposal. The top three teams were chosen to ‘pitch’ to the business community at the breakfast and gained feedback, encouragement and real interactions with employers – alongside enhancing their presentation skills in front of a hall-full of strangers.


The winning team – a vegetarian restaurant fast food outlet, who plan to use the ‘V’ sign in much the same way that a certain fast food outlet uses the golden arches of an ‘M’ – were ecstatic about their win. However, what they didn’t know was that Ann of Didcot Railway Centre was in the audience that morning and wanted to give them a taste of setting up business in the real world. Ann immediately inviting the group to Didcot Railway Centre where they would be able to put their ideas into practice and also receive a business mentoring session to discuss how they'd turn their business dream into reality.


“It was a real pleasure to meet the V team! We’ve looked forward to giving them the opportunity to put their ideas for a vegetarian restaurant into practice at Didcot Railway Centre.  It’s great for us to work with O2i, Didcot Girls’ School and the South Oxfordshire Business Network to give something back to the community in Didcot.”, Ann from Didcot Railway Centre commented.


Stuart George at Didcot Girls School has been equally impressed with the relationship, saying : 'We’re always keen to provide opportunities for our girls to develop their leadership and employability skills at DGS and when opportunities like this come along, when you get to engage on a real life project, in the local community, using the expertise of local business people, it always results in a brilliant and memorable experience for all involved'.

The girls receive some mentoring from Mike Foster

Didcot Girls School and Mike Foster have lots of employer engagement ideas brewing to inspire students and strengthen the local business community – it will be an exciting next year for the school so keep an eye out for how you can engage with their fantastic students!