ED ImageWe are delighted to announce that our annual Employability Day at Hemel Hempstead school was a huge success! Despite having been held virtually this year, feedback from the Year 10 students at Hemel Hempstead School, as well as their teachers, stressed how appreciative they were of all the effort and hard work put into the day and really felt like they learnt a lot. Virtual sessions are never going to replace the face to face impact and we hope we can return to that format next year, but it was worth doing this online as most students will have taken something away from this. 

Hemel Hempstead School are super appreciative of all those who volunteered and gave up their time to help these students.

Lamare Dunkley and Polly Chapman from Epson, Karen Gosen from Gaddesden Riding for the Disabled, Sarah Askey from Osbourne, Jane O'Gorman from Ten2Two, Chloe Lewis from career guidance. 

If you want to help out next time, do let us know.


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.

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