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Mad Hatters Get Ahead In West Yorkshire Student Enterprise Scheme
Mad Hatters receive the award for Best LEAP Company 2018 (L-R) Anna Tinsley, Manasvi Tyagi, Orla Hendron, Nathan Rockley, Steve Webber (LEAP chair), Andrew Robinson, Tom White, Emma Johnson and George Piper. Additional company members not pictured are Gabrielle Jackson and Robert Southby. Photo by Tom @ Powerhouse Digital
Members of student run company Mad Hatters showed they had heads for business by scooping four accolades at the 11th annual LEAP awards, which recognise budding entrepreneurship amongst West Yorkshire’s secondary school pupils.

LEAP is the Leeds Enterprise Advisory Programme, a social enterprise which enables students to set up their own companies for a school year. The students, aged between 14 and 19, had to raise their own share capital, choose and make or buy a product, write a business plan and market the product.

At the end of the year teams had to present their ‘company’ and its results to a panel of business advisers and prepare an annual report with financial accounts.

Mad Hatters, run by ten Year 12 students from The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), won LEAP’s top prize, the Westcom Networks Award: Best LEAP Enterprise Company 2018, for their hat business. They also won awards for best company report, best trade fair marketing and best company presentation. Their range of hats changed with the seasons – stylish woolly hats in winter, then individually tie-dyed bucket hats as hopes grew of warmer weather.

The students all took positions in the company such as marketing, finance or social media director. Managing director Nathan Rockley said: “Although I knew LEAP would take me outside my comfort zone, it was an opportunity I decided to take as I could only benefit from it. The whole experience has been eye opening for me, showing what a group of friends can achieve through teamwork.”

Mad Hatters were one of 18 companies participating in LEAP this year, involving 200 students from GSAL, Bradford Girls Grammar School, Allerton High School, Ralph Thoresby School and Woodhouse Grove School. Such is the benefit of LEAP to students that four additional schools have already signed up for next year’s programme.

LEAP chair Steve Webber, managing director of Westcom Networks, said: ‘Each of this year’s teams has achieved a very high standard, although the winning teams really did stand out from the rest of the field. Each pupil who has spent valuable time creating new brands and services whilst learning about how to take them to market, control costs and report responsibly about all aspects of business has done extremely well.

“The aim of the LEAP programme is to give students practical experience that they can apply in the real world as they undertake public exams and interviews, go onto university, apprenticeships or enter the job market.”

As part of the assessment for the LEAP awards, the teams took part in two trade fairs held and sponsored by Leeds Merrion Centre/TCS plc. Additional awards were made for marketing at trade fairs, presentations and reporting which are judged throughout the year. All competition entrants were judged on sales ability, retail presentation and innovation. From these results - combined with a review of the company business plan and administration - the judges selected the best LEAP company of the year, as well as rewarding broader aspects of business in thirteen other categories.

Mad Hatters Get Ahead In West Yorkshire Student Enterprise Scheme, 2nd May 2018, 17:32 PM