First prize for One World

Roger Trapp reports on the award-winning entry in our competition to ra ise funds for a fictional charity
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The Independent Online
A wide-ranging and highly detailed proposal for raising money for a charity working in the developing world has won three sixth-form students first prize in the business management competition organised by the Chartered Institute of Management Ac countants (Cima).

Their plan for raising funds for the fictional One World charity impressed the judges - Rosemary Thorne, finance director of J Sainsbury, Alec Reed, chairman of the Reed executive recruitment consultancy, and Susan Sheard, director of the BLP Consultancy. Several entries in the competition, sponsored by the Independent and the electronics company Sharp, were felt to be of high quality, but the presentation by the team from Verulam School, St Albans, Hertfordshire, was considered outstanding. It showed agood grasp of the subject and met the five criteria of presentation, creativity, originality, planning and implementation of ideas and financial analysis.

Mr Reed, who has extensive experience of working with charities in Britain and abroad, said: "By anybody's standards, it's a great job."

Although the situation the teams were asked to deal with was hypothetical, Cima plans to pass on many of the ideas to charities with which it has links.

The three students - Adnan Ahmed, Richard Day and Velavan Gnanendran - received a trophy and £1,000-worth of Sharp desktop business products at a lunch at London's Scandic Crown Hotel shortly before Christmas. Afterwards, they were taken on a tour of Docklands, including a trip to top of the Canary Wharf tower, where the Independent is now based.

The boys and their teacher, Mark Francis, spent much of their summer holidays on the project. They produced most of their materials during a three-day spell at a local information technology centre. The team - all studying A-level economics in the school's upper sixth form - then followed this up with a lot of work on their own.

Although the school is proud of the award, this is not its first success of this kind. Two years ago, a group of pupils won a similar competition organised by Arthur Andersen, the international firm of accountants and management consultants.

In addition, largely prompted by the head of the business studies and economics department's enthusiasm for applying learning to outside projects, it has traditionally been strong in the Young Entrepreneur competition, in which groups of students are puttogether to run a fictional company.

Mr Francis said that the school operated this policy because individual students gain a lot from the experience of being able to apply their knowledge to a practical situation.

The school has decided to use the prize to obtain a laser printer and fax machine especially for the business studies department, to enable further projects of this sort to be carried out.

A total of 850 teams composed of pupils aged between 16 and 18 registered for the competition, organised by Cima to mark its 75th anniversary last year. One hundred and thirty teams, representing all parts of the country, eventually took part.

The regional winners were: Broadoak Sixth Form centre, Weston-super-Mare; Milton Keynes College, Milton Keynes; Bournville College of Further Education, Birmingham; St Bede's Roman Catholic School, Lanchester; Lancaster & Morecambe College, Lancaster; Carrick Academy, Ayrshire; North West Institute of Further and Higher Education, Londonderry, and the John Colet School, Wendover. The teams each received a top-of-the-range Sharp electronic calculator.

Cima devised the competition with the aim of demonstrating how management accounting is involved with all aspects of the business, while also encouraging young people to become involved in the work of charities.

Mr Reed and other representatives of the organisation rated it a "great success" in providing pupils with "an exciting yet valuable learning experience".