30 September 2019: Eight teams of students from schools in Dacorum will be putting their entrepreneurial skills to the test as young Apprentices in the Connect Dacorum Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge in a bid to raise money for charity.                                                                               

The Challenge pairs teams of Year 12 students with local business people (a Dragon) and each team is then matched with a local charity or community group. They are then tasked with developing business strategies and delivering their ideas to turn £100 of seed capital into £1,000 or more, with all profit generated going directly to the team’s charity. This year, Dragons come from a variety of businesses which include companies such as.

At the launch on Monday 30th September, held at John F Kennedy School, Connect Dacorum Manager, Cindy Withey, matched the teams with a Dragon and with the charities and community groups that each team will support. The Apprentices then spent time getting to know about the work and objectives of the charities and community groups and were introduced to their Dragon. Over the next few months the teams will work closely with their Dragons to devise business based projects to raise money and awareness for their charities. With guidance from their Dragons, the teams will learn about entrepreneurship, managing a business, communications, finance, organisation and other job related skills, all of which will be of positive and practical value in the next stage of their education and development.

The teams can win awards for the most money earned, most innovative product/service or business idea, best example of close co-operation between team and charity, best presentation and best display panel. After the final reports have been judged by a panel of Super Dragons, six teams will be shortlisted to deliver a presentation at the awards event at on 30th March 2020, in a bid to become the overall winner of the 2019/20 Challenge in Dacorum.

456 pupils have taken part in the challenge over the past 7 years and have raised over £76,000 for local Dacorum charities. Cindy Withey, project leader of the Dacorum Challenge said, “We’re overwhelmed with the interest and excitement that the Challenge generates each year and I’m excited to see what the teams develop over the next 5 months and look forward to our Awards Evening.”

Residents and businesses based in Dacorum should look out for and support the teams in their various activities. Projects might include running stalls at the various Christmas markets, hosting dinners in local restaurants, organising musical events and quiz nights and making and selling refreshments at local fairs. Teams this year are:

School                                     Dragon                                    Charity

Ashlyns                                    EIC Insurance                          Hospice of St Francis

Hemel Hempstead                  Barnard & Webb                     Cherished     

JFK - Team 1                            Dacorum Sports Trust            Herts Young Homeless

JFK - Team 2                            Just2Connect                           Dacorum Mencap

JFK - Team 3                            Intrapreneur                          Woodfield School

Laureate 1                               Aubrey Park Hotel                   Radio Dacorum

Laureate 2                               Dacorum Borough Council      Mediation Herts

Egerton Rothsay                      Suttons Envelopes                   Alzheimers

Dragons ApprenticeDacorum students raise over £18,500 for local charities in a record breaking Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge

Winners of 2018/19 Challenge announced after budding entrepreneurs pitch to SuperDragons at Shendish Manor Hotel finals

1st April 2019 – Team No2Abuse from Hemel Hempstead School has been proclaimed the overall winner of the 7th annual Dacorum Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge which is organised by Connect Dacorum. The team was one of ten who completed the challenge and invited to present to the SuperDragon judges - leaders from the world of business, education and local government - at this week’s Challenge Finals at Shendish Manor Hotel.

All teams from the secondary schools were supplied with £100 stake and challenged to turn it into £1,000 or more, with support and advice from mentors within the borough’s business community.

The teenage tycoons in waiting stepped up to tackle a charity challenge and were showered with praise on Monday night. The SuperDragons were impressed with their all round business abilities as well as the confident way in which they presented themselves, always representing their charity.

Cllr Rosie Sutton, Mayor of Dacorum, presented the awards and inspired the audience of young people, businesses and charities by emphasising the practical value of the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge. Presentations at the finals night at Shendish Manor Hotel revealed the wealth of business lessons learned by the pupils as they staged everything from cake sales and quiz nights to carved wooden IPad stands and film nights.                                                                                                                                                   

Named as overall winners on the night were the team from Hemel Hempstead School, who scooped a Snow Centre session for their efforts in support of Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline. Their Dragon was Jane O’Gorman from Ten2Two who said “I am so proud of the team, they threw themselves into the challenge and came away with a multitude of new skills such as communication, teamwork and perseverance, learning continually throughout the challenge on how they can improve the next event.”

Other winners were:

Most Money raised: Primus from John F Kennedy School who raised £4357.44 for their charity DENS. Their Dragon was Ben Satchfield from The Olde Kings Arms in Hemel Old Town

Best Business idea: Heptagon from John F Kennedy School. Their Dragon was Alan Curtis from Drager Medical and their charity was Community Transport by CAD

Close Co-operation with Charity: Team Purple from Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden. Their Dragon was Mark Rickard from Robert Dyas and their charity was Pepper Foundation

Best Display: Adeyfield Trinity from Adeyfield School. Their Dragon was Chris Jones from Think Specialist Recruitment and their charity was Adeyfield Free Church

Best Presentation: Laureate Fire Lions from Laureate Academy. Their Dragon was Lloyds Bank and their charity was The Hospice Lottery.

Best Creative Idea – B.I.L.L. from Collett and St Lukes Schools. Their Dragons were Dan Dark from Warner Bros Studios and Chris Luff from Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce, and their charity was Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled.

SuperDragons Special Recognition Award – Laureate Fire Lions

As they celebrated their successes all the teenagers agreed that the Dacorum Dragons Apprentice Challenge – now in its seventh year – was both a lot more work than they had ever realised but a test that both developed their skills and gave them a chance to get involved in their community.

Schools who completed the 2018/19 Challenge also included two schools from outside of Dacorum: Adeyfield, Collett and St Lukes, The Laureate Academy, Hemel Hempstead, John F Kennedy, Kings Langley, Sir John Lawes School in Redbourn and St Albans Girls School (STAGS).

 The teams are supported by Dragons from local businesses including: Robert Dyas, Ten2Two, Dacorum Borough Council, Think Specialist Recruitment, Chamber of Conscience, Drager Medical, The Olde Kings Arms, UKOS, Sopra Steria, Lloyds Bank, Burtons Biscuits.

Charities/Community Groups to benefit include: Community Action Dacorum, Gaddesden Riding for the Disabled, Waterways Experiences, Carers in Herts, Domestic Abuse Helpline, DENS, Adeyfield Free Church, Herts Inclusive Theatre, The Hospice Lottery, Rennie Grove Hospice Care, The Pepper Foundation

The Challenge is organised by Connect Dacorum and runs annually from September to April. Any schools, businesses or charities across Dacorum that are interested in taking part in Dragons’ Apprentice 2019/20 should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

                                                                                                                                              Originally conceived in St Albans, the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge offers Year 12 students the opportunity to experience setting up and running a business, gaining organisational and job related skills and learning about the work and beneficiaries of their designated charity.

The Challenge is being run simultaneously across other boroughs in Hertfordshire, although Dacorum has now been described as the 'flagship' for the Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

The SuperDragons for the 2018/19 Challenge were:

Dave Gaze, from the Dragons Apprentice Challenge

Lesley Crisp, Assistant Team Leader in Strategic Planning and Regeneration at Dacorum Borough Council

Claire Dutton, Business Teacher at West Herts College

Longdean 4 smallOver the past 5 years we have seen 1800 pupils go through our Employability Days with over 1,175 hours volunteered.  Now in our 6th year Connect Dacorum is again running the Employability Skills programme in 2019. Can you help out?

This is a half day session whereby volunteers from businesses and charities help a small group of students (8-10 in each group) go through an interactive morning of CV writing, application forms and interview techniques. The day starts at 8.30am and finishes at 1.30pm.

The dates are:

Thursday 2nd May at Longdean School

Thursday 27th June at Hemel Hempstead School

Monday 15th July at Kings Langley School

We need YOU.   Everyone of us has experience of writing CVs and going for interviews, so I would be grateful if you could get the word around your organisations and let me know if you have any volunteers.  I am looking for around 15 people for each day.   

Last year the facilitators came from a wide variety of backgrounds and businesses, all willing to give up their time to help shape the future generation and pass on valuable advice.  Longdean School said “This activity gives our students an amazing opportunity to learn future skills needed in the workplace. It gives them the chance to spend 2 hours with a local employer in a small group situation where they are able to ask questions and find out information that is important to them.”

 “Really enjoyable day spent with the students at Longdean School.” said Jane O'Gorman from Ten2Two. 

 "It was such a pleasure to help out with the Employability day at Hemel Hempstead School, facilitated by Connect Dacorum. I enjoyed working very much with both my groups from year 10, who interacted well together, a great bunch of kids.” Cathy White, HR Officer at Aubrey Park Hotel.

 The pupils also completed a feedback sheet at the end of the day with all of them of them saying that it was helpful.  One wrote “I have found about interviews and a variety of skills needed”.  Another said “I will apply the communication skills that I have developed.”

I have developed a poster (attached) and would be grateful if you could display this on your staff notice board or in your kitchen, and if you know of anyone who would be interested, please do let me know.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EcoedWould you like to support a local school to learn more about plastics and recycling, climate change, health and wellbeing and what to do to be kinder to the environment, creating real action benefitting your community?

Ecoed are looking to find sponsors/ funders for doing an Ecoed challenge in schools. They currently have 14 schools across London (primary and secondary) interested in participating, one of these is local to Hemel Hempstead.

Please see attached poster for more information.

Careers Fair opening smallA first of its kind careers event, organised as part of the Enterprise Adviser Network, draws 40 leading Hertfordshire employers and over 1000 students in a showcase of potential career paths within the county.

Over 1000 students, aged 15-17, from 14 Schools explored the variety of career paths available in Hertfordshire at the Dacorum Schools Careers Fair on 24 October. School Careers Fairs do run across the borough but this was the first time such an event included SEN and mainstream students side by side during the school day. All students benefited by talking to Hertfordshire’s major industries - over 40 leading employers supported the event, including engineering firms AECOM and Atlas Copco, life-sciences giant GSK, retailer Robert Dyas, construction firm BAM, manufacturing firm SWR Group  and leading film producers Warner Bros. Studios, among others.

The event was launched by Sir Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, alongside Councillor Rosie Sutton, Mayor of Dacorum, and Sally Marshall, CEO of Dacorum Borough Council.

Sir Mike Penning MP said: “I’m delighted and honoured to open this, the first Dacorum Schools Careers Fair, a fantastic showcase for all the great businesses and organisations in our local area. It’s heartening to see just how many employers have turned out today to support our local schools and to engage, inform and inspire the 1000+ students that will be coming through the doors today.”

The fair was the first of its kind organised by a team of local business leaders, known as Enterprise Advisers, who work with schools to improve careers provision for young people as part of the national Careers & Enterprise Company programme, delivered locally by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and YC Hertfordshire. The fair was also supported by Connect Dacorum and Dacorum Borough Council, and hosted by the four-star Shendish Manor Hotel in Hemel Hempstead.

Event leader Ruth George, Enterprise Adviser for Kings Langley School and Director, Ruth George HR Consultancy, said: “Enterprise Advisers from across Dacorum have pulled together to create an event that has given students a chance to interact with a wide range of employers and enabled schools to connect with local businesses and each other. The response has been phenomenal, with a fully packed room and a reserve list of employers wishing to exhibit. Having received amazing feedback from the day, we can’t wait to get cracking on next year – it will be even bigger and better!”

Cindy Withey, Connect Dacorum Manager at Community Action Dacorum, said: “Connect Dacorum has been delighted to be part of this very first Dacorum Schools Careers Fair as we work very closely with both the schools and businesses in our mission of connecting businesses up with the local community. The day went really smoothly which is a credit to all involved in organising the event and we look forward to a bigger and better Careers Fair in 2019.”

Rosanna Giarraputo, Community Engagement Coordinator at Bell Group, who exhibited on the day, said: “It was a great event and wonderful to meet with so many different students, teachers and other businesses. I look forward to being invited to next year’s event!”

Sheena Jhurry, Woodfield Special School, said: “As a school, we are very much invested in supporting our students into the workplace once leaving school, should this be their preferred route. The fair enabled us to expose students to different types of employment, which supports them to make informed choices about their future. The students enjoyed meeting employers who they had shown a previous interest in and finding out about what each job entails.”

To reserve an exhibitor stand at the next Dacorum Schools Careers Fair, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Find out more about the Careers & Enterprise Company programme in Hertfordshire at www.hertfordshirelep.com. If your business would like to join Hertfordshire LEP’s Enterprise Adviser Network, please contact Gareth Dace at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01707 356 129.