Mark Watson-Gandy with Kids MBA students at St Columba's Catholic Boys School in Bexleyheath
Kids MBA

First pupils graduate from the ‘Kids MBA’

Students at a school in Kent have become the first graduates of a project aiming to teach children vital business skills that will increase their life chances.

St Columba’s Catholic School for Boys in Bexleyheath was the first to sign up to the ‘Kids MBA’ classes designed to offer them a taster of the mind-set, skills and know-how that they will need to start a business or become self-employed.

This is seen as being particularly important for young people as socio-economic changes over the last decade have meant the ‘job for life’ is less likely and ‘portfolio careers’ (where an individual has more than one job) are increasingly common, demanding a different set of professional skills.

The 10-hour intensive course for 12-15 year olds was designed by a team of leading academics, professionals and business people to provide business education that is not on the UK school curriculum.

It covers topics such as business plans, book-keeping, marketing and customer care.

The first graduates were a group of Year Eight students at St Columba’s on Halcot Avenue, who received their certificates on Monday 11th June.

Deputy headteacher and business manager, Paul McGonnell, said:

“We are very excited to bring this opportunity to our students. It gives them an introduction to skills that will not only stand them in good stead as an employee but would give them an advantage should they decide to work for themselves.

“Hopefully we will see some of our students in years to come, walking away with the funding in Dragon’s Den!”

Kids MBA was founded by Mark Watson-Gandy, an insolvency lawyer and visiting professor at the University of Westminster.

He set up Kids MBA after he noticed the number of businesses he worked with that had failed, not because they were based on a bad idea, but for reasons that could have easily been avoided.

“This kind of business education doesn’t exist in schools,” he added. “Business owners have to learn by trial and error.

“What we want to do with the Kids MBA is to give young people the skills - the ‘unsexy’ skills they need to understand the principles of business and what they can achieve.

“The idea of a career for life in a large company has gone. Business knowledge is now the source of young people’s economic independence.

“Not every child’s future lies in being a salaried employee but, even those that do, will gain from a better understanding of what matters for their employers.”

The Kids MBA course consists of ten 45 minute sessions and includes traditional lecturing, games and role play.

The sessions at St Columba’s have been led by Professor Joseph Tanega, a reader in international financial law at the Westminster Law School and a member of the expert board at Kids MBA.

“We’ve run the Kids MBA course over two days and it has exceeded my expectations, the way the children have responded has been amazing.

“We have presumptions about 13 year olds - but they’ve been totally engaged and have thrown themselves into the role play exercises,” he added.

“The format allows them to use their imagination and it’s completely participatory, they’re not passively learning.

“Some students don’t have English as their first language but the practical nature of what we’ve been doing has meant they are engaged and can understand the concepts we’re dealing with.

“Out of 17 students, at least seven of them already have business ideas.”

Making the course accessible internationally is one of the aims of Kids MBA.

A recent report by the World Bank found that one of the key interventions to combat poverty and encourage gender equality is through promoting business skills and know-how.

About Kids MBA

  • Kids MBA is an education project providing 12-15 year olds, with a short intensive programme
  • Targeted at pre-school leavers around the world, it is designed to provide a ‘taster’ of the mind-set, skills and know-how that they will need to embark on self-employment or to start their first enterprise
  • The course is taught by trained teachers through a pre-scripted course pack, discussion, games and roll play.

About Mark Watson-Gandy

  • Mark Watson-Gandy is the founder and CEO of Kids MBA
  • He is a practising barrister, visiting professor at the University of Westminster and a special lecturer at Cass Business School
  • He has more than twenty years’ experience as a director of companies.

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