Business and Administration courses – introducing TreloarPrint

Rather than run a traditional 'business studies' course, where students learn about business, we run a real business through which students learn and gain qualifications. The business we run is TreloarPrint – which is a small design and print enterprise that has been growing steadily over the last few years.

It is one of many 'Ian Karten Centres', started and supported with the help of funding from the Ian Karten Charitable Trust. Ian Karten was a philanthropic businessman who recognised the potential of people with disabilities, especially when enabled with carefully chosen IT equipment and expert support. His vision continues to enhance the lives of countless people – a tremendous legacy.

Because it is a real business, we have real customers and make real profits. About 75% of our customers are external to Treloar's and their requirements vary from a few flyers or business cards to hundreds or sometimes thousands of leaflets, or newsletters, posters, greetings cards, calendars and so on.

Students learn what it is like to work in a real business environment, with real problems to solve, time pressure and deadlines, difficulties with communication, calculations, costings and quotes, business emails and phone calls, records and issues of confidentiality, teamworking and delegating, health and safety and security issues, and so on.

We have a wide variety of equipment, varying from common 'office' things like copiers, printers and computers, to more specialist 'copy shop' equipment like our guillotine, booklet maker, folding and binding machines. Students who prefer design work can use Adobe software, while others may prefer the more practical work with the machines, or packaging and despatching products to customers. We also have our own reception area, right at the front of the College, where students practise their reception skills.

Alongside this, students have the opportunity to develop their Functional Skills (English and maths) in a real work setting, and work towards City & Guilds NVQ units at Level 1 or Level 2. The NVQ units are 'workplace assessments' of knowledge and skills, rather than a taught course.

TreloarPrint is a busy, fast-moving, dynamic and sometimes challenging place in which to work, which helps students learn what it is like to work in a real business and develop many skills. It is frequently also fun and rewarding!

Photograph by ex Treloar's student Thomas Blumire