Talk about Newsnight

Make your mark with a tenner

Blogging - a new era

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Apr 08, 05:49 PM

blog203.jpgAs many of you who've used the BBC's blogs will know, it has for some months been a deeply frustrating experience, not just for you but for us too.

The point of blogging about our programmes is to have a swift and informal conversation with our viewers. That's impossible if it takes hours to get your comment or our response through.

I'm relieved to say that as of yesterday we have a new system which should be much more robust and which I hope will usher in a new era of blogging for Newsnight.

One change is that in order to comment you'll need to register by filling in a simple form.
Once signed up, you'll be able to comment on any BBC blog using the same login.

Many of you have already commented on how it's working and one or two have suggested it's designed to introduce more censorship.

That's certainly not our intention. The aim is to encourage much more open discussion about the programme and much more interaction with the programme-makers. I'm sure it isn't perfect and that you'll let us know how it could be improved.

Thanks very much to all those contributors - the Bob Goodalls, Barrie Singletons, Mistress76UKs and many others - who have persevered through all the blog problems. Apologies for all the Error 502s, and welcome to the new era.

Blog fix imminent

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Apr 08, 04:32 PM

Blog closed temporarilyFrom 1800 this evening (UK time), we'll be doing some essential maintenance to the blog. As a result of this, you won't be able to leave any comments on our blog posts from that time until Thursday morning and the comments function on all old posts will close. We apologise for any inconvenience.

The work will fix the very frustrating problems we've encountered for some time now with the whole comments system.

From Thursday a new system will be in place - this will mean you will need to complete a simple registration form in order to post a comment on the blog. Once signed up, you will be able to comment on all BBC blogs using the same login. There will be more details in the morning. In the meantime - if you wish to comment on the programme you can email us via

Blog problems - a solution is nigh

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Apr 08, 11:40 AM

blog502error.jpgAnyone who regularly reads the Newsnight blog will know that we have suffered from a series of technical problems for some time now. Comments disappear, the dreaded 502 'not available' message appears, and multiple copies of comments get submitted in error. (More on the problems here.)

Well, to much relief (not least here at Newsnight), a solution is about to be unveiled.

In the very near future the comments system that causes all the problems is being replaced by a BBC-wide system.

Under the new system, anyone wishing to leave a comment will need to sign in - a relatively swift and painless affair that comes with the added bonus of enabling you to leave your thoughts on blogs and message boards across all BBC websites.

Finally, we hope to revamp and relaunch the whole Newsnight blog shortly, with more bloggers, more variety, and the odd bit of video thrown in. But one step at a time...

We'll update you on the changes next week.

Cathay Craftz - 22 February

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Feb 07, 12:48 PM

In a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Newsnight is following one scheme, Cathay Craftz, and its entrepreneurs are blogging their progress here on Talk About Newsnight.

olli_203.jpgWe've had Newsnight in today! And Olli Barratt who organised the Make Your Mark With a Tenner challenge. It was great. Stephanie Flanders, the Economics Editor, interviewed us and all our team of volunteers. You can see from the picture what a good team we have got!

It was great meeting Olli. He wasn't what we expected at all. Sometimes it is easy to think business people will be boring and not very interesting. Olli was really down to earth and took time to chat to all of the team as well as the four of us Directors. We're pleased he got a chance to see our school too.

It has been a busy week. We've had lots of orders to complete for teachers and also we are still completing our orders for the United Learning Trust conference and for the Manchester Science Park. People have definitely got quicker making the origami now. After all the practice we've had though, it's not surprising!

Prabhjot delivered the order to our catering company Eurest on Thursday. We made Chinese New Year decorations for the Academy dining room because the catering team were having a special themed lunch and serving Chinese food. Lisa Flowers, the Catering Team Leader was very pleased. We made posters with traditional New Year's wishes and also lots of golden pigs to show that it is the Year of the Pig this year.

We've done a raffle as a last chance to make some more money. One of our team, Ka Yan in year 7, has made a beautiful origami box and we've filled it with chocolates. We're selling the tickets in school for 10p.

So far, we think we've raised about £900. Of that, we are paying all our volunteers a £25 gift voucher as a way of saying thank you for all their hard work. That takes £225 out of our profit but it is worth it. Cathay Craftz may have been run by the four of us but it has been a real team effort.

With our profits we are going to sponsor five students at our partner school, Toli Secondary School in South Africa. By sending them £430 we can sponsor five students for three years. We are really pleased that our business has been able to make such a difference. For something that started so small, it's going to go on to have a big impact.

Thanks for reading our blog.

Cathay Craftz - 19 February

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Feb 07, 04:50 PM

In a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Newsnight is following one scheme, Cathay Craftz, and its entrepreneurs are blogging their progress here on Talk About Newsnight.

team203.jpgWell... what an end to our half term! We went to the Chinese New Year festival in Chinatown and had a stall to sell all our origami products. It was a great success.

We had to meet Miss Miller and Miss Sarson at the Academy at 10:30am on Sunday morning and then we packed everything up and off we went. Setting up the stall was fun. We had lots of debates about how best to display the products, and how we should attract our customers. We were all a bit nervous at first, but we soon got into the spirit of things. Prabhjot and Marcelle did a great job of stopping people as they walked past and showing off our best-selling products. Yahui and Yidan were at the stall selling away and doing a roaring trade in Chinese calligraphy!

Once the festival got underway lots of people came to Chinatown. There were Lion and Dragon dancers and lots of firecrackers going off. Luckily the weather was dry... but a bit cold! It was interesting to see what items sold well. Our "Wishing Pots" and origami flowers sold very well and people bought lots of calligraphy too. We did "Happy New Year" messages with people's names on.

The Cathay Craftz team sell their waresOne of the highlights of the day was when some people actually recognised us after our appearance on Newsnight! We felt a bit like celebrities. It was nice that they were genuinely interested in how our business was coming on. We also got lots of positive feedback when we told people about the 'Make Your Mark with a Tenner' competition. People were impressed with what we'd done on only a budget of £40 between us. Some of them seemed surprised that you can achieve so much if you just put your mind to it. It just shows that setting up a business and being an entrepreneur is possible, even if you are still at school!

It was good to be representing not just Cathay Craftz but our school Manchester Academy and we are proud of ourselves. So thank you to all our customers on the day and to Manchester Science Park for underwriting the cost of the stall. We've just got to count up how much we made, but we think it is around £200. 7% of that is going back to the Science Park as interest on the stall loan, but even with that deduction it was a very profitable day.

Yidan, Marcelle, Prabhjot and Yahui

Cathay Craftz - Half Term blog

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Feb 07, 01:51 PM

In a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Newsnight is following one scheme, Cathay Craftz, and its entrepreneurs are blogging their progress here on Talk About Newsnight.

We've had a quiet but busy half term. A number of the team are revising for GCSEs so studying had to take priority for a few days - but we've still managed to make some money all the same!

Our delivery to Croma went well. They liked the Valentines mobiles we had made and were going to use them to highlight a beautiful water feature they have in the restaurant. They were very impressed with the quality of our work.

Then it was preparation for the Chinese New Year stall - we got our license and the plot for the stall through the post on Thursday. We'd got lots of products ready to sell and we were quietly confident... fingers crossed for the weather though!

Cathay Craftz diary – 8 February

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Feb 07, 10:43 AM

We've been trying to make the most of Valentines Day next week by selling origami hearts before we break up. So far we've done ok. Some classes aren't very romantic though... but we won't name and shame them! We've had a bit of competition today from a group of Year 10 boys who are taking part in the Young Enterprise scheme. They are selling red roses for Valentines Day. Our products are cheaper and will last longer though... so that's our new sales pitch! It's good to have competition, it made us work harder.

Teachers are putting in orders now so we've got a lot of things to get done.

We went to Manchester Science Park and met with Rachel Williams from Tenant Services and Mary Flanagan who runs the Park's cafe. The photo is us making our pitch. We told them all about Cathay Craftz and then we were asked to sit and come up with an idea for origami in the cafe. We've decided to decorate a pillar that they have in the cafe and turn it into an eye-catching feature. We've got to put a quote in writing to them when we've come up with the costs etc. The Science Park are giving us the money to pay for a stall in China Town during the New Year festival. They want a return on their investment though, so we had to negotiate that with them. Having done some research, we decided on 7% as an average of the interest costs that some banks offer small businesses on start-up loans. They have agreed to this, which is great.

Our order for Croma is ready and the restaurant want it delivered next week. At least that is one job crossed off our 'to do' list!

We'll be selling more things in school tomorrow, so our bank balance is getting bigger. Then we've got half term. Time for a rest and revision.... and some origami making too of course!

Yidan, Marcelle, Prabhjot and Yahui

Cathay Craftz diary – 7 February

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Feb 07, 02:14 PM

cathay_203c.jpgThe positive news today is that Prabhjot and Marcelle got an order from our catering company, Eurest, to supply decorations for two themed events they are doing in school. They're having themed lunches for Chinese New Year and St Patrick' Day and we're going to decorate the dining room. Yes, it is possible to make origami shamrocks!

We've discussed our pitch for Manchester Science Park. We've looked at business loans on the internet and we are going to try and negotiate the same kind of percentage return with the Science Park tomorrow. We're also taking with them examples of our work and hoping they'll commission a mobile for their cafe.

We start our Valentine's sales drive tomorrow. We're selling hearts and messages in Chinese calligraphy. Definitely nicer than a normal card!

We've also nearly finished our order for Croma so we'll definitely be delivering ahead of schedule on that one.

Our team are getting lots quicker at making the items so productivity is up. They're all helping out with the selling during registration tomorrow too, so we should get at least three years covered tomorrow and then years 10, 11 and Sixth Form on Friday.

We're still having to juggle lessons, homework, coursework and interviews for sixth form around all this so our time management skills are getting better!

Yidan, Marcelle, Yahui and Prabhjot

Cathay Craftz diary – Feb 6th

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Feb 07, 05:55 PM

cathy_203a.jpgWe’re certainly learning that running a business has highs and lows. We’ve got good and bad news today.

Good news first though! Manchester Science Park, who is one of the sponsors of our Academy, has agreed to underwrite the £80 cost of leasing a stall at the Chinese New Year celebrations in Manchester. This is great news, as the £80 was a big investment for us when we are not sure of our return. However, we’ve got to go and meet a representative from Manchester Science Park to negotiate the terms of the loan. They want a return on their investment so have asked for a percentage of our profits from the stall. It’s tough but then business is tough. We’ll keep you updated with how the negotiations go.

We’ve also been given an order by another restaurant in Manchester. Croma, a restaurant in the city centre is paying us to make them a Valentine’s window display. We’ve got to deliver it to them by the 13th February, but that’s half term, so we’re trying to get ahead of schedule and get it done by this Friday. Although we are trying to use donated paper and gift wrap, an order like this means that we have to buy paper to ensure quality. It eats into our profits a bit, but we make sure that we factor that into our prices!

Production is underway for the contents of our stall at the Chinese New Year celebrations. We’ve even learnt to make origami pigs to capitalise on the fact that it will be the year of the Pig. We’re also hoping that our origami hearts will sell well this week in school as Valentines gifts.

Now for our bad news. One of our directors, Jamie, has decided to resign his post on the Cathay Craftz board. Unfortunately he was finding it difficult to juggle the competition and his school work. We’re sad that he feels he has to leave, but we respect his decision. We are going to have a meeting later today to decide on how we fill his vacant post.

It’s not all easy, that’s definitely something we’ve learned so far!

Tuesday afternoon: We’ve just had a meeting and decided who our new director is. Prabhjot has been a key part of the team so far and has also been involved last year in Young Enterprise. It was hard, because we had a number of people we could’ve asked, but we feel that Prabhjot will make an impact in the short time we have left.

Yahui, Marcelle and Yidan…. and Prabhjot!

Cathay Craftz diary – 5 February

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Feb 07, 04:41 PM

kathy_203.jpgAs Principal of Manchester Academy, I’m no pushover for an easy sell. Cathay Craftz made their pitch to me last Friday. It was witnessed by two visitors from the BBC who are working with some Year 8 students on a project called “School Report Broadcast Day”.

I got the feeling that colleagues from the BBC thought I was a bit hard but I’ve watched Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice so I think my interrogation of the Cathay Craftz directors was entirely fair and reasonable! They did such a good job with their pitch that I placed an order for table decorations for the United Learning Trust Annual Conference.

The Make Your Mark with a Tenner challenge has been embarked upon as part of the Academy’s “Enterprise for Employability” strategy better known as E4E@MA. This strategy aims to develop the enterprise skills needed for the future. The success of previous E4E projects such as “Enterprise Week”, “Hospitality and Catering Competition”, “Armed Forces Skills Challenge Days” and the “Sport and Leisure Enterprise Competition” have resulted in the focused entrepreneurship which everybody has seen in our Cathay Craftz directors.

The E4E activities range across every year group and ability as good academic results on their own are not enough for the future.

One of our business supporters, Tom Bloxham, CEO of Urban Splash, wrote “Manchester Academy has budding entrepreneurs amongst its students and the introduction of E4E enables them to nurture their aspirations and turn their dreams into a reality.”

It would be wonderful if Cathay Craftz were to win the Make Your Mark with a Tenner challenge but it is the learning journey rather than the destination which will help them the most.

Cathay Craftz diary - 2 February

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Feb 07, 01:36 PM

mobiles_203.jpgHighlights of 1st February - we made our first sale! We delivered our first commission to Lisa Tse at Sweet Mandarin. It took a lot of hard work but it paid off because she was very impressed with the work. Lisa said she had told some of her contacts about us from as far away as Canada, New York and China! So, that's a £50 sale by our fourth day! It was good to be able to come back to the Academy and pay the money in to the Cathay Craftz account set up by the Finance Manager.

Things we've learned so far: Organisation is most important! We started off really enthusiastic about everything, and we probably weren't as focused as we could be. But to avoid last minute panics in future, we know we've got to change the way we organise the production of the products. Our workshop can look a bit chaotic, but everyone is working hard now. Mrs Delfino still hasn't let us get off lessons either, so we're doing most of this before and after school.

We've got a great team of volunteers (Prabhjot, Zhi Wen, Liam, Charlotte, Lauren, Jessica, Belinda, Kanwal, Firuza, Ka Yan and Catherine) and everyone is now trained in making at least one type of origami. This is turning into a real team effort and our team are from all different years in the Academy. The majority of the volunteers had never even made origami before so they're having to learn quickly as we go.

Friday's to do list includes meeting with our Principal to present prototypes of our range. She is thinking of giving us a big order to give as gifts at a conference that United Learning Trust (who sponsor our Academy) are hosting in March. She's hard to sell to though and we know we have to impress her. We're also trying to get our production team working quicker because one week of the challenge month is half term holiday, so we've got to make the most of the time we've got. We've also put a display in our staffroom and so we're waiting for the teachers' orders to (hopefully!) start rolling in.

Jamie, Marcelle, Yahui and Yidan

Cathay Craftz diary - 1 February

  • Newsnight
  • 1 Feb 07, 08:51 PM

cathay_203.jpgIn a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Welcome to the Cathay Craftz blog on the Newsnight website. Jamie Barker speaking! Everyday a different director will contribute to this blog.

Today we are delivering our very first commission to Lisa Tse at Sweet Mandarin. It’s been hectic but we’ve done it!

We are also en route to completing our prototypes for Mrs August, our principal, our deadline being tomorrow! She has requested specialised pieces for a very important dinner with members of the United Learning Trust, the people who sponsor our Academy and other academies up and down the country.

We now have a whole team of students working with us. We are up to our knees in paper!

Manchester Confidential is giving us advertising space on their website, so this should help us.

Cathay Craftz, Manchester Academy

  • Newsnight
  • 1 Feb 07, 08:41 PM

cathay_203300.jpgIn a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Cathay Craftz tells Newsnight how it plans to turn its pool of ten pound notes into a healthy profit...

We've got ten pounds each, one month and our challenge is to make a profit in the month! We've chosen to make origami and are selling this to staff, students and businesses.

Cathay Craftz comprises of four students from Manchester Academy; Yahui Zhang, Marcelle Tompkins, Yidan Liu and Jamie Barker. We are the directors of Cathay Craftz, and we have set up our business to take part in the Make Your Mark with a Tenner competition.

One of our directors, Yahui, had the idea for the business and the Make Your Mark Challenge was an ideal opportunity to get some funds - and some motivation! Yahui chose to bring Marcelle on board, having worked with him before in Young Enterprise and then they invited Jamie and Yidan to join them.

Our products are simple. Origami pieces made, wherever possible, from recycled paper and donations of gift-wrap from the staff and students. We've come up with a list of prices, and we've rounded up some (willing!) volunteers...

We were really lucky that we got chosen to take part in some filming for Newsnight. They came to the Academy and interviewed us all, watched our first board meeting, Stephanie the Economics editor even had school dinner with us! During the day we went up to Sweet Mandarin (a restaurant in Manchester's hip Northern Quarter) and we pitched our idea to one of the owners, Lisa Tse. Lisa was good enough to give us our first order. She wants four big mobiles to hang in the restaurant for Valentines Day - so the clock is already ticking!

Our aim is to make £500. Part of the profits will pay for staff and materials. But as well, we're trying to raise money to sponsor students from our partner school, Toli Secondary School in South Africa. At Toli it costs £86 to pay for a student to complete three years of their education. One of our teachers has visited them and since she returned we've been thinking of ways to raise money for the students there.

Just think, our month-long challenge could make a real difference to the futures of students all the way in South Africa!

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