FORTY school children from eight York schools have been developing the skills needed to start a business.

The children from Years 8 and 9 have taken part in a scheme run by The Company of Merchant Adventurers of York, a guild of businesspeople and traders which dates back to 1357.

The company worked with the University of York and York ISSP (Independent State School Partnership) to provide a 6-week business and enterprise course to inspire the next generation of York entrepreneurs. 

The students learnt how to develop ideas, test concepts and solve problems and explored market research. They also honed their communication skills through branding, marketing and public relations exercises. 


The course has been delivered by expert tutors while Merchant Adventurers have supported through mentoring and sharing their experiences. 

The students also enjoyed a lesson held at Betty’s tearoom, hearing how the iconic local business has grown into an international brand.

The course concluded on Wednesday night with a presentation at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.  Each team pitched their business concept to an audience of parents and Merchant Adventurers — and the winning team was chosen by an expert panel.


This project has been funded by the Merchant Adventurers’ Charitable Trust, which aims to support business and enterprise education, with a focus of providing opportunities for young people in the city. 

To raise funds for these events, the trust organise events throughout the year, including the annual Beer Festival which returns to the hall on Friday  and Saturday July 5 and 6- the day after the General Election.

Last year’s Beer Festival raised £13,000 and the trust is aiming for a higher target in 2024. For further details visit

Martin Vander Weyer, Governor, The Company of Merchant Adventurers- of the City of York said: “Throughout its long history, our Company has been involved in business education in York — from apprenticeships in the Middle Ages to this brilliant course for school groups today.

“We’re proud of all the participants, we loved their business ideas and we hope it has been a truly memorable experience for them.”    

Jeremy Walker, Chair of York ISSP and Headmaster, St Peters’ School, York said: “It has been excellent to see the second group of sparky and creative ISSP students taking part in the Business Enterprise Course. 

“We are very grateful to the Merchant Adventurers for their sponsorship and support of the programme and to the teachers and mentors who make it possible.  The skills and experiences they have gained through the course along with working together with students from schools across York will have lasting impact and it is exciting to see their presentations.”