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Enterprise begins at home, says Osler

Parents could turn out to be champions for enterprise education, according to the former head of the inspectorate.

But the SNP's education spokesperson in the last Scottish Parliament has mounted a fierce attack on the whole concept.

Douglas Osler, now a visiting professor of enterprise education at Strathclyde University, told a conference on the role of parents: "I have a feeling that parents are the ones who will see past issues of curriculum overload, theoretical debates about the purposes of education and logistical difficulties and will actually see that an enterprise in education approach can benefit their children."

Mr Osler acknowledged that it was important to learn from the past in adding new areas to the curriculum because parents do not like their children taking part in things that were not part of "the educational fabric" when they were at school.

The conference also heard from Linda Brownlow, depute director of the Enterprising Careers centre at Strathclyde University, that schools need to do more to make parents aware of the benefits of enterprise education.

Ms Brownlow, co-author of a research paper on the subject, said: "We need to focus to make sure that parents realise that enterprise in education is about equipping young people for life in general and is not just about jobs."

Sheila Semple, director of Enterprising Careers, said it was time for teachers to move out of the comfort zone in schools and get in touch with parents in their homes. Schools must do more than pay lip-service to consultation if the Executive's plans are to be successful.

"That is not going to happen unless parents and families who really affect young people's attitudes and expectations are closely involved and are at the heart of he process," Ms Semple said.

Meanwhile, Michael Russell, the SNP's former education spokesperson, has criticised the "love-in" between politicians, educators and business people over enterprise education.

Writing in his regular TES Scotland column today, Mr Russell says that, while there is a place for education about business in the later secondary stages, "to shoehorn it into our youngest children, in schools which already have difficulty enough in guaranteeing the time and space to acquire basic skills, is arrogant, insensitive and wrong-headed".

Scotland was at its most enterprising a century and a half ago when rote learning was the norm and Latin featured as strongly in the school curriculum as any living language, Mr Russell says.

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