The Cambridge college where students run a company each afternoon
Cambridge Leadership College takes a novel approach to learning. Its pupils study for their A-levels in the morning, then work on their start-up businesses.
What do a company upcycling unwanted clothes, a Cambridge co-working space and a radio show have in common? They are all companies run by students at Cambridge Leadership College.
This is no enterprise week project. Each student at the school in Brooklands Avenue has their own start-up with all the pressure and responsibilities being in charge of a business brings. They study for their A-levels in the morning and work on their companies in the afternoon.
Annabelle Grove runs Cambridge Deskspace, a co-working space in the college’s building, just a few minutes walk from the station.
Annabelle, 18, from Cambridge, said: “The opportunities that come from student and entrepreneurs being in the same space can be endless. I love to know that the presence of my business in the school building isn’t just going to benefit me but also the other students who work here.”
Cambridge Leadership College is an international school for 16 to 19-year-olds run by teachers Tom Cassidy and Andrea Joyce. Tom has worked all over the world, including running a business school in Hong Kong, where he started developing his approach to teaching students how to problem solve through creativity. Andrea has been teaching in and around Cambridge for the past 10 years including at Long Road Sixth Form College and Cambridge International School.
They wanted to see if there was a different way to offer sixth form education; to encourage students to be confident leaders; and to make education accessible, affordable and available to all people across all borders. All the tuition notes are made freely available online and the college uses Slack to enable students to keep in touch.
Tom said: “By setting up real limited companies they need to learn how to talk to people, how to organise themselves, how to plan. And of course, they make mistakes.”
Andrea said: “We recognise students need to get high grades. We use accelerated learning. We want them to have high grades and we want them to do that as quickly and efficiently as possible to do all the other stuff we need to find time for.”
Cambridge Leadership College has 12 teenagers studying in the school building and nearly 2,000 people taking part in courses online. Students can enrol at any time during the year.
Among the students at the college is Quinn Tonelli, 16, from Seattle. He moved to Cambridge when his dad got a job here and liked the college’s different approach. He runs a business redesigning unwanted clothing alongside studying for A-Levels in maths, economics and media.
He said: “Starting your own business as a teenager is challenging, but is a good learning experience and is a good way to prepare for a possible future in entrepreneurship. I developed my business by figuring out pricing, marketing, etc, and trying to find a market for my clothes. I love it because it is something I really enjoy doing and is a creative outlet.”
Maaya Sunai, 17, came to CLC from Sapporo in Japan. She has launched an online radio show, broadcasting once a week and has used Instagram to develop an international audience.
She said: “When we visited the February open day I really liked the atmosphere of the school and people in there.
“I preferred the small size of the school so that teachers can focus on each student and we can care for each other. And it was a good opportunity to study just three subjects which actually I need when I turned into university so I could pre-study uni stuff in the UK.”
Tom and Andrea would like students to be able to access all their learning facilities including tuition support online free of charge but to do that they need to raise money for scholarships through the Cambridge Leadership Foundation. They are inviting the Cambridge business community to enjoy Que Rico Tapas and meet the students at a fundraising event at the college on December 5 at 6pm.
Annabelle said: “People should support CLC because of how highly innovative it is. It gives young people the opportunity to do what they want to do, develop their entrepreneurial skills, run their own businesses and do their A-levels all while growing as a person.”
To find out more about Cambridge Learning College visit cambridgeleadershipcollege.com.