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illuminate:nextgen Challenge

The illuminate:nextgen Challenge is a week-long immersive education experience, that provides an opportunity for primary and high school students to be the confident, creative and capable young people they have the potential to be in an authentic learning opportunity. Supported by skilled facilitators at every step with the support of the local community and our partners, students work in teams to explore what it takes to get a new project or business idea off the ground, developing key skills and capacities in the following areas;

  • Communication (Speaking, Writing & Presentation Skills)
  • Understanding (Critical Thinking, Inquiry, Digital & Financial Literacy)
  • Solving Problems (Creativity, Problem Solving & Reflection)
  • Working Smart (Collaboration, Organisation & Perseverance)

Designed by Adam Mostogl (Top 30 Under 30 Australian Entrepreneurs 2017, Finalist for Young Australian of the Year 2015), the entire challenge provides an authentic experience of the working world while still being educationally relevant, allowing students to grow and stretch at every stage. Students will be provided with opportunities to present industry-relevant submission with opportunities to develop, reflect and refine all components with support from illuminate Education’s facilitators who design and deliver every component of the program.

With over 8500 students across Australia having completed the program, along with international recognition for our work, the illuminate:nextgen Challenge is an incredibly impactful experience that will leave your students, teachers and wider community inspired for years to come.

Overview of the Week

As you can probably already tell, a lot happens in a week at the illuminate:nextgen Challenge that it is hard sometimes to put it into words!

To help with that, here is a short clip that gives an overview of the week, from the moments the students arrived at the venue through to the announcement of the Overall Best Team at the end of the challenge. Filmed at our Central Coast (NSW) program in 2017, you’ll see over 150 students from across the region at the University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah Campus coming up with new businesses in the challenge as well as pitching their ideas and completing a number of other tasks. This program was possible with the support of the University of Newcastle and Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (who produced the video).

more information

In a nutshell, the challenge allows students develop solutions to issues within their community and the world, through exploring the root challenges and researching them, brainstorming and refining their initial concepts, investigating the financial viability and community license for their solutions all the way up to presenting their solution and asking for investment to launch – with all of the skills introduced and workshopped during the week. In alignment with the core values of illuminate Education, we recognise that young people will not only use these skills in starting businesses or driving community change, but these are fundamental to young people being prepared for the changing world – and finding their feet to meet the potential that they have within themselves.

The challenge is designed in a way that allows students who have never completed an experience like this before to learn all of the skills and frameworks required to excel in the program – meaning there is no requirement for schools or teachers to provide students with additional content or teaching. This is important as many of the communities we go to students have not had an experience with business or entrepreneurial subject matter, but for those who have, the style of delivery allows existing information to be reiterated from an industry perspective – and the opportunity to apply it in an authentic environment with a competitive element is a great motivator. With programs hosting anywhere between 20 and 400 students, the mixture of abilities from different schools and even across a single school makes for a rich experience that students will remember and draw upon for years to come.

It is from this perspective that the challenge is also aligned to the Australian Curriculum across the General Capabilities as well as various subject areas, as well as the Australian Blueprint for Career Development. Designed for Year 9 and 10 students in the first instance, the challenge help students grow in confidence in the big decisions that young people are making in choosing their future education and employment pathways – but is customised to suit the cohort of students coming through, the community and values of the partners involved. To ensure that the learning environment can deliver upon all of these skills and the engagement required for students to excel throughout, the challenge is delivered in person with illuminate Education’s skilled facilitators coming into the community. This means our facilitators coordinate with the community to deliver all of the content, guiding students through the submissions and deadlines and supporting teams to grow and succeed. Everything is fully planned and all resources are prepared upon arriving in the school – making the challenge an impactful solution for the region without requiring significant time investment from schools.

Register Your Interest

We’ve got programs running across Australia this year, and the best way to ensure your students don’t miss out is to register your interest today. This way you’ll be given registration details and updates as the program draws near.

Learn More

We’ve included a frequently asked questions section online to help you learn more about the illuminate:nextgen Challenge so you can see the impact the program can have on your students as well as the operational details as well – and below is a map of our upcoming programs across Australia.

In Your School?

illuminate Education also delivers illuminate:nextgen Challenges in schools for an entire year group to benefit from the program, as well as additional benefits for the school community – just get in touch with us to explore this option.

What Others Say

Don’t just take our word about the benefits of the illuminate:nextgen Challenge – here are some teachers who have been involved in past programs reflecting on the program.

““I have enrolled students in the illuminate:nextgen Challenge for many years. illuminate Education excels at motivating young people to become the independent learning, self-directed adults that our nation so desperately needs. Their provision of real-world learning is second to none and their programs are still talked about by students many years after they’ve left school. Best of all illuminate Education’s programs target those cross-curricular priorities that are so difficult to address in the day-to-day classroom.

Bob Ashby
Teacher, Sheffield School, Tas

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge pushes students to extend themselves in a positive, supportive setting. It helps student to develop the real-world skills necessary for any workplace, and exposes them to study and career options. The program helps students to unlock their full potential and discover their future.

Brendan Taig
Careers Practitioner, Suzanne Cory High School, Vic

““My school participated in the illuminate:nextgen Challenge for the first time in 2018. The students were excited for the week but not not sure what to expect. Now they are excited for their future.

Justine Lyons
Business Studies Teacher, Pimlico State High School, Qld

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge was exactly that, a challenge. The students really enjoyed the program and were able to stretch themselves and learn new skills. It also changed their perspective on learning and propelled them to the top of their classes.

Catherine Eppen-Van Der Aa
Head of Humanities and Languages, Mandurah Baptist College, WA

“The illuminate:nextgen challenge was, as described by one of our students at our school’s end of year awards ceremony, a life changing experience for our Year 10 students. The week created such a positive vibe amongst those doing the challenge and indeed, throughout the entire school, and students from all years seemed to be taking an active interest. It certainly allowed our students to develop all of those ’21st century skills’ that everyone is talking about – self-directed learning, leadership, team-work, stress management, time prioritisation, meeting deadlines, innovative and creative thinking and public-speaking, with that all important exposure to how a business works.
I really do believe that this challenge, and the skills that were developed by students, will have a lasting impact on them, not only for success in Year 11 and 12, but also post-school education and in their working lives. A huge thank-you must go to the illuminate Education team and to our local business people that so willingly volunteered their time to be a part of the program. What invaluable mentors our students have had!”

Dale Massie
HSIE Teacher, Terrigal High School, NSW

“Thank you and your team for the fantastic experience had by our students during the illuminate:nextgen Challenge. Our students were engaged throughout and took away many valuable new insights in regards to the world of business and also valuable insights into how they respond to a challenge. The event was fantastically managed, flowed effortlessly and delivered the right balance of expert input with student work. The facilitators were excellent role models for the kids and ran the week in a professional and engaging manner. As a staff member supervising students, I enjoyed myself throughout the week and would love the opportunity to attend again with another group of students ready to take our business pitch to a new level!!”

Eric Radice
Teacher, Yule Brook College, WA

“The future of our world is in these young people’s hands and this program allows the students to have an opportunity to think outside the box and have input into changes that they would one day like to witness. The 21st century skills that this program offers can’t necessarily be taught in a classroom. It is a great kick-start to their career pathway.”

Elyce Bates
Careers Advisor, Terrigal High School, NSW

“The nextgen Challenge has evolved and grown over past few years. It has become one of Riverside High Schools priorities as an educational activity outside the normal curriculum. The students are given an amazing opportunity to experience the world of work in a truly invigorating and educational environment. All aspects of the week-long challenge are well planned and relevant to the challenge. All students should experience something like this in their journey through high school.

Amanda Claridge
Assistant Principal, Riverside High School, Tas

A student knocked on my door the day after the illuminate:nextgen Challenge and explained how it was the best week of her school life and can she do it again!

Stacey Exner
Executive Principal, Dubbo College, NSW

What a week! The students were engaged, the presenters were authentic, and the simulations were as close to a real business experience as one could ever hope for. illuminate Education have created a brilliant programme that is accurately targeted at Years 9 and 10 – they really understand what they’re about. We will be looking to expand involvement next year and beyond.”

Mark Smithies
Business Studies and ICT Teacher, Devonport High School, Tas

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge gave our students from 13 schools an extraordinary experience where they applied the great skills they are getting to a real world situation beyond the classroom. They excelled throughout the entire challenge process using real life skills around interrogating information to solve a problem creatively, research, digital literacy, presentation, market research and collaboration. The students grew so much throughout the experience and they readily articulated that learning. A wonderful opportunity to try the real world in a great learning environment. Cannot recommend the challenge highly enough!”

Shayne Player
Principal, Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Tumbi Umbi Campus, NSW

The illuminate:nextgen Challenge was an amazing opportunity for our students to discover things about themselves they would not have been about to explore in the everyday classroom. The way the program was run was exceptional, teaching students about the various elements of running a business, giving them practical skills and then allowing them to “get their hands dirty” by applying their new enterprise knowledge. Students were extended and pushed to achieve some incredible results and the comments since they have returned have been nothing but positive. We will definitely be involved in this program in years to come as it offers opportunities that we are not always able to offer within the school environment.”

Lou Christie
ICT Teacher, Clarence High School, Tas

“The illuminate:nextgen Challenge was a valuable experience for our JTC year nine students. Yes, students learnt a lot about what it takes to start up a business. Importantly, they also learnt a lot about collaboration, communication, working under pressure and problem solving. Students were encouraged to participate in a real-world experience, beyond the classroom, to bring their ideas to life. Students stepped up and pushed themselves that little bit further to complete the challenge. We look forward to working with Adam next year to take nextgen to the next level in W.A.”

Rebekah Bessant
AVID Coordinator, John Tonkin College, WA

“The illuminate:nextgen challenge was an awesome experience for our students. They were provided with a level of challenge greater than they would normally experience and were placed in a working environment that allowed them to explore their ideas and skills in a mature workspace. The ownership that the students demonstrated of their idea from brainstorming to the final product was key and their sense of achievement at the end of the week was enormous. Students were empowered by the experience and felt great pride in their success.

Benjamin Joyce
Teacher, Erina High School, NSW

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about the illuminate:nextgen Challenge that will give you more information about what we do and how the program works. Please note the answers are generic in nature as we are not talking about particular programs, but can be provided upon request by contacting us directly.

We’re not ones for limiting students who should be involved as we believe almost any student would flourish in this learning environment, we would recommend offering this to students who;

  • Are interested in starting their own business, regularly shows initiative and is creative in their approaches to problems, or
  • Could be leaders in the future, so they can benefit from the skills developed in the challenge to excel no matter their future decisions, or
  • Currently considering if further education is an option for them, as it will give them an authentic experience of what an adult learning environment is like, or
  • Are excelling in school as this learning environment is self-directed allowing their skills and passions to drive their performance, or
  • Are disengaged from learning, as students explore concepts in authentic ways and can explore their passions through the way the challenge is facilitated, or
  • Are undertaking business, commerce and accounting classes as the content will be delivered by people in the fields to boost their knowledge and allow them to apply the knowledge in a new environment.

The program will be entirely dependent on the capacity of the available venues in the area, however we’d like to have as many students as possible participate. Our team are capable of running programs with up to 300 students in the one program, but only if the venue allows for us to safely host this many students.

We recommend to enter as teams of seven, however you can enter teams of between five and eight students. These sizes have been set on our previous experience in running this programs that maximise student engagement in tasks without excessively overloading students.

We keep the exact wording of the theme secret until the opening presentation of the challenge, to add to the excitement and pressure of the experience. This ensures that all students have the opportunity to approach the challenge with an open mind, but the theme will be relevant to the economy and region. In the past we’ve given students themes such as social entrepreneurship, sustainability, tourism development, manufacturing and exporting internationally, and much more.

No. The illuminate:nextgen Challenge is developed so that all students can learn the basics of business and entrepreneurship through the presentations and content delivered in the four/five day period.

During the challenge, the entire program is run by facilitators from illuminate Education. We also invite speakers from the community as well as representatives from our partners to present content as well as judge the student work. Whilst teaching staff may assist students on the first day, their role will be primarily to supervise. Teaching staff will also have the opportunity to attend lecture sessions.

At the conclusion of the program, an awards ceremony will be hosted to celebrate students’ achievements across the challenge. Awards will be presented to teams and schools, based on criteria as set out at the beginning of the week.

illuminate Education recognises that schools have their own duty of care requirements and recommend these should be followed, whether the program is occuring on the school campus or off-site. illuminate Education will have at least one facilitator attending the program at all times, with all facilitators holding current Working with Children Checks.

Awards will be presented for tasks submitted throughout the challenge as well as overall awards at an award ceremony on the last day of the challenge. The judging panel will be made up of representatives from the community as well as supporters of illuminate Education, with all work assessed against eight criteria:

  1. Creative thinking and innovation
  2. Strategy and planning
  3. Financial interpretation
  4. Presentation standards
  5. Branding and target audience
  6. Message and language
  7. Time management
  8. Use of Information Communication Technologies

All teams will be provided with a folder containing resources that will be useful for the week. Additionally, students can bring the following optional items:

  • Laptops or tablets. Care of these items will be the responsibility of the student.
  • Pens and paper. These can be used to take notes and support the learning environment.
  • As the challenge progresses, students may decide to bring additional resources or equipment from home/ school, specifically for their trade display stall promoting their business.

illuminate Education also recommends students to use their mobile phones to complete tasks and undertake research across the week, but this will be discussed with the schools to confirm student use.

Students are required to wear their school uniform from Monday to Thursday. On Friday (presentation day), students are recommended to wear neat attire relevant to their business idea, or can continue to wear their school uniform, but this will be discussed with the school as the program draws closer.

All sessions and tasks throughout the challenge are aligned with the Australian Curriculum. The challenge meets content descriptors for English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Technologies, the Arts and Work Studies, as well as the Australian Blueprint for Career Development and Tasmania’s MyEducation framework. These are available upon request from illuminate Education directly.

Our focus is to make the process as easy as possible, and we will discuss the program closely with the relevant staff to ensure it is a success. However here is a quick list to help start the advance preparations;

  • We’d like to have as many of your students participate in the program as possible, and this is why we are asking schools to let us know what week would suit them best.
  • In terms of a venue, we require a large open space which we can use for students to hear presentations (with AV setup) with tables and chairs for students to complete group work. We can be flexible to work with the existing bookings in the school, or have students complete tasks across multiple rooms after hearing the presentations.
  • We would like to ask students from nearby schools to participate, but this will be dependent on there still being available space after your students have registered for the program (which will be given preference) and if the school is happy for this to occur.

Outside of these questions, illuminate Education will coordinate the program, provide resources and speakers for the program to be a success.

With all of our staff either working in schools or qualified teachers, we recognise that sometimes students can choose not to engage in the content and have a number of adjustments we can make to the program. Facilitators may make amendments to the program to support students engagement, they could present scaffolded templates for students to help them complete the task required of them, or else will engage with the school about the student/s in question to ensure the best outcome can occur. We would like to see every student completes the program and gains some benefit, but recognise this cannot always be the case.

We know that schools have requirements around students participating in program such as this, and this will need to be taken into account. However illuminate Education does request permission for the following;

  • Permission to collect student details (such as names, date of birth, career interest) to track the students in the program and provide details to partners where students have shown an interest in career areas.
  • Permission for students to use Slack, which uses servers based overseas that will handle all of the student communication during the week. Note: there is no identifiable details when students communicate unless they identify themselves in the communication stream.
  • Permission to take photos during the week and use these for our own purposes, including promoting the program.

Schools will be provided with the relevant permission forms for parents to sign and return to illuminate Education to complete the program, and questions can be directed through the school to illuminate Education.

There are so many definitions and assumptions around who and what an entrepreneur is! At illuminate Education, we recognise that is about skills that the individual has rather than an occupation, and with that in mind believe the following are three integral skills to be an entrepreneur;

  • Self-motivated as they get their drive from within themselves rather than requiring external motivation. In this, we mean that individuals can step out and develop new ideas on their own rather than having someone else suggest and prompt them to do so, or that they can come up with their own pathway rather than needing someone else to be reminding them to do something.
  • Self-confident as they are willing to back themselves to make something happen. In this, we mean that individuals will be confident enough to step out from the crowd and do something different if it needs to be done rather than follow the rest of the crowd.
  • Resilient as they will have to handle being knocked back from time to time. In this, we mean that they can handle the hard situations (such as stress, tight deadlines, team breakdowns, etc.) and persevere towards the outcome in mind rather than giving up.

It is from this understanding that illuminate Education has designed the illuminate:nextgen Challenge and equips all students in these three areas across the program.

Contact illuminate

We’re always eager to hear from people who are interested in what we do – whether you are a school, a potential partner or someone who just wants to get on board with what we do. You can either get in touch with us directly below, or else use the form on this page and we’ll respond to you shortly;

Partners & Supporters

We’ve worked with some great organisations over the years inspiring students across Australia, and you can join them!