I recently attended Ken Stimpson school with the Skill Service and we ran the Duck Production event, this meant that the classes were split into teams of 6-8 people, they were taught how to make paper ducks and then had to sell these to the buyers – I was one of the buyers and I currently own a lot more ducks than I ever thought possible!

We worked with the lower ability students and I was so impressed with their enthusiasm to the project, after all, these were origami ducks.

The first student that came to sell a duck to me was visibly shaking, he was very nervous about the whole thing – yet 2 or 3 sales in and this was a confident student with a whole sales pitch ready and prepared. We were allowed to spend up to £50 on a duck and I quickly found myself paying the top price for the amazing origami ducks.

Students could buy coloured paper and hire coloured pens to decorate their ducks and they went to town. There were ducks with cool eyes, smiling ducks, big ducks and little ducks on ‘day one’ (the first 15 minutes) and then day two and three saw the arrival of origami ducks with origami hats on, ducks carrying their babies and, in the light of Valentine’s Day there were duck couples.

I then had children promoting different coloured ducks loving each other because ‘even though they are different it’s good to love one another’, a group made ducks with hidden messages telling you that you’re beautiful, to be happy and to keep your chin up. There were other ducks promoting childline and anti-bullying. It was great to see how much thought went in.

Due to my background I will always have more time and love for ‘supported learners’ (which this school called the ‘nurture group’) and there was a boy with visible nerves who was the politest boy I have ever come across, letting other teams go before him, telling me which friend had made the duck (never co-workers, always friends) and I must have bought from him on 5-6 occasions.

At first he completed avoided eye contact, and was happy to take my money and go – yet as each visit took place he was keener to try bartering, to make eye contact and tell me the back story of the ducks and why they had been made. By the last sale / purchase of ducks this boy gave me full eye contact and even offered a hand to shake. He explained he had looked at the ducks I had purchased and the ones I had liked and had decided that he would tell his team this and then make just the ones I liked. None of the other teams had done this, so there was real skill.

The improvement in the confidence of this child and many others was phenomenal and I left feeling I had made a real difference, these were the lower ability children who were making HUGE amounts of profit and doing an amazing job – so much so we even ran out of money to purchase the ducks!

If you ever get a chance to go in to a school and help students achieve more and better themselves then grab it with both hands, it is time out of your day that is definitely not wasted – and you might even come home with a bag full of ducks too!