Bromley High’s Year 6 rise to the John Lewis Innovation Challenge


A couple of weeks ago a cohort of Year 6 pupils from Bromley High School completed the John Lewis Innovation challenge – the brief was to design a community hub for the benefit of John Lewis and the community.

The teams undertook the challenge during Year 6 Enterprise Week, an annual initiative to help the girls develop their enterprise skills. They also devoted 10 hours of curriculum time to the challenge. Dr Garcia, a Bromley parent and lecturer at the London School of Economics, enlightened the girls about the process of team-building – Form, Storm, Norm and Perform – and the different roles within a team to ensure success.

Phil Holton, the school’s Head of DT, questioned and probed to help each team refine their idea; Karen Kimura, GDST Learning and Development Manager, provided advice and support throughout.

Each team submitted their competition entry, a mix of film, artwork and the written word. The school submitted eleven entries to the national competition for 9 – 11 year olds. Six of these made it to the final shortlist and the school took 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th places! Second place was taken by Howell’s School, securing a clean sweep for the GDST.

The winning team’s design provided local start-up businesses with the opportunity to showcase and sell their products with the possibility of running workshops alongside. Amelia Rand, Grace Wu, Olivia Hillman and Zara Aslam won a tablet each and a 3D printer for the school. In total, the school’s shortlisted entries won a total of £900 of John Lewis vouchers.

Each pupil in a shortlisted team won an individual “Technology Will Save Us” kit (akin to a Fitbit, but one they have to code before they use it!) worth £60.

Following their amazing success, the winning team travelled to Partnership House, the John Lewis Partnership Head Office in London, to meet Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, Paula Nickolds, the first female Managing Director of John Lewis and former GDST Trustee, and Emma Marchant, Sustainability Communities Manager.

They received great advice on leadership skills and how to work successfully in a busy team, coping with time pressures. They enjoyed seeing the working environment in action and meeting some of the people who had viewed all the entries and been part of the judging process.

Cheryl Giovannoni, GDST CEO, commented:

“Students currently in school will have many choices to make about their future career paths. They will have the opportunity to go to university, study on the job via elite apprenticeships or increasingly set up their own business. The Year 6 students working on this real life problem for the John Lewis Partnership have gained an awareness of the entrepreneurial skills they will need whichever path they chose – communication, time management, team work and more.

The amazing success in this competition is just the beginning; I look forward to them going on to achieve great things!”

Below, the girls from the winning team comment on their experience… 

“I really enjoyed Enterprise. I learnt a lot about working together as a team and listening to everyone’s idea. I really loved the whole experience and would love to do it again!”

Zara Aslam

“I found it hard to work with the time limit and near the end I thought I wouldn’t be able to complete it but I persevered and didn’t give up. I’m glad I continued as I wouldn’t have made it this far!”

Olivia Hillman

“Enterprise was a really good experience as we found out what it was like to be an interior designer. I found it stressful but interesting as we all had disagreements but everyone’s ideas were innovative.”

Grace Wu

“Enterprise was a great experience for me. I learnt that you need to accept other people’s ideas and let everyone share their thoughts.”

Amelia Rand