Groups of schoolchildren stand around a number of structures made from newspaper.

Each has been given the task of creating a building from paper without the use of glue or sticky tape.

But this is not an art class. The Year 7 youngsters, just a couple of weeks into their first term at Bingley Grammar School, are having to put their thinking caps on.

They are having to think along the lines of contestants on BBC’s The Apprentice – which is back on our screens next week – and bring other factors into the equation, in a contest to built the tallest, most stable tower.

“The cost per sheet of newspaper is £50,000, and the tower earns teams £10,000 for each 10cm in height,” explains local entrepreneur Heidi Waddington, whose company is among a number of businesses involved in the day-long programme. “They can double their profit if the structure does not fall down when you blow upon it.”

The session is one of many run in primary and secondary schools by Young Enterprise, a national initiative which inspires young people to succeed, and inspire each other to succeed, through acquiring entrepreneurial skills.

With more than 500,000 people starting their own business every year, and 4.8million small businesses across the country, the number of schools hosting the programme is rising.

Every year, business volunteers and educators working with Young Enterprise inspire more than 300,000 young people aged between four and 25 years. It aims to foster entrepreneurial skills not only in those wishing to start their own business, but others who choose to work for others, or set up community schemes.

Heidi and her business partner Shelley Lister, who established their own jewellery and accessory-selling company Something Frivolous, joined other entrepreneurs from across the Bradford district at Bingley Grammar School – which is a specialist business and enterprise college – to advise the youngsters.

“The activity-based day is designed for the pupils to think about what it means to be enterprising,” says Heidi. “We look at areas such as how products are designed, pricing and quality control. It is extremely useful – school is not just about getting qualifications, it is about thinking what you want to do with your life. Sessions like this help to put the building blocks in place.”

Royal Mail, HM Revenue & Customs and a number of smaller companies were among those attending, as well as the founders of educational materials firm Tellatale, who set up their business on a similar activity day while in Year 10 at their Yorkshire school.

Head of business at Bingley Grammar, Jamie McMahon, says the recession has brought entrepreneurial skills to the forefront of people’s minds.

“Because we have lived through a period of sustained growth, this is a new experience which has directly affected some families.”

The part-nationalisation and sell-off of Bradford & Bingley – based in the town – has had an impact on the local community. “Subjects such as interest rates, personal economics and finance, loan management and credit cards are becoming more vital. Business and enterprise skills are part of the curriculum.”

School administrator Janet Craven, who organised the Young Enterprise day, adds: “Television programmes such as Dragons Den and The Apprentice are influential.

“Statistics back up the growing interest, with more students opting for business and economics courses at GCSE and A-level.”

Kathryn Jeffs, development manager for Young Enterprise in West Yorkshire, says: “The number of schools requesting enterprise programmes or days is increasing year-by-year, and in Bradford we have seen a huge increase.

“Young Enterprise is very beneficial as it gets people thinking about what options exist for them in the world of work.”

Janet Brumby, senior team manager for Young Enterprise in Yorkshire and Humberside says: “A lot of companies are looking for what is known as intrepreneurial skills – people with bright ideas, who are open to change and not afraid to come forward and think outside the box.”

Heidi Waddington and Shelley Lister plan to volunteer to help on more Young Enterprise activity days. “It is great to be able to put something back, and refreshing to see the energy and drive you get from young people.”

- For more information on Young Enterprise Yorkshire & Humber, ring (01482) 307711, e-mail, or visit and click on the regional links.