The Stoats Oat Bar Challenge

Pupil cooking

About the Project

This partnership was an inter-disciplinary activity that involved over 200 pupils and four departments in Firrhill High School.

Stoats, a local manufacturer of porridge products, were the main industry partner, but to help the pupils develop an understanding of the wider food industry, suppliers to their company were also brought on board.

The pupils were challenged to a Dragons Den style challenge – creating a new product to fit in the Stoats range, and also develop a wider understanding of the manufacturing process.

Project Partners, Aims and Objectives

  • Highlight the range of skills required by industry
  • Support new product development
  • Engage with a range of related businesses
  • Enhance Corporate Social Responsibility of the companies involved
  • Provide pupils with a real context for learning and help to develop a range of skills including teamwork, self-confidence and leadership.
  • Develop an inter disciplinary approach
  • Map CfE experiences and outcomes


“This is a gift to Curriculum for Excellence – as a school we didn't have to do anything differently. Using Stoats as a context for learning ensured that the whole programme fitted with everything we planned to deliver to the pupils.” Teacher, Firrhill High School.

Research Skills – Pupils learned research skills as part of the project.

Work experience - One pupil was so enthused by the presentation that he asked to spend time with the company to gain wider experience.

Inter-Disciplinary Learning was evident in the final pupil presentations and working on real product ideas for Stoats made the learning more relevant and as one pupil stated – “the product went beyond the school and not just put into a cupboard.”

Understanding the food industry as a career – Over 90% of the pupils that participated said they know either a little bit more or a lot more about the food industry.

How we did it

The development of a new oat product that could be added to the Stoats product range was the challenge set for S2 pupils.

Stoats set the scene in a special assembly for all S2 pupils where Managing Director, Tony Stone, took the pupils through the story of his business. He then asked them to come up with an oat based product to fit with their product range and company ethos.

Further special assemblies were also held for related companies to discuss wider aspects of the industry. Express Microbiology stressed how vital it is to check for the presence of certain organisms that can affect both the quality and safety of a product. Vegware emphasised the importance of recycling and thinking about sustainability of packaging food.

The technologies departments ensured that in the weeks leading up to the final the pupils were taught the skills required to complete the challenge. Pupils planned the development of their product, designed the packaging, made the product, created advertising and prepared presentations to be delivered to a team of 'Dragons'

Normal school timetables were suspended for two days to allow for the project to be completed and final adjustments made.

A final Dragons Den event announced the winning product with members of the business community and parents being Dragons.

What we learned

Business Insights – Staff and pupils agreed that the participating companies provided valuable insights into the world of business. In particular the skills and tools used in this project were seen as being transferable to their wider learning.

Relevance – pupils admitted working harder on this project because “it was real” and set by industry and because they had to present to non school staff at the end of the process.

Marketing Ideas – The company acknowledged the ideas that surfaced informed how their existing products might be re-packaged.

Working with business partners – involving more than one business partner helped to broaden the appeal of the programme and and highlight a broader range of career pathways.

Parents can get involved too – having parents act as Dragons was a great way to allow them to engage with the work of the school. “It was delight seeing them (with all their anxiety) delivering their presentations and showing us their products.” Parent.

What next?

Senior Management within Firrhill High School ensured that the project was being fully integrated into the curriculum and that it would be a key part in the development of learning pathways from S1 through to S3. Examples include; further development of presentation skills as part of the S3 Business Placement; other linkages are being developed in S1 that will lead into this S2 project.

Opportunity to include more departments – The school plans to widen the programme in coming years and incorporate more departments e.g. math's and science.

Advice – Pupils can have limited experience and knowledge of business processes so it is important to provide appropriate advice and help in advance. In particular they may need significant help with the concept of business planning.

Reviews - Hold regular inter-departmental review meetings. Consider these as 'twilight' sessions to ensure focus and minimal disruption.