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Heads to be shown 'the big idea' of enterprise

The key figure behind the Executive's relentless drive to produce more enterprising pupils is backing a major extension of his pet project by turning his attention to headteachers. This will further entrench enterprise education as "the big idea" in Scottish schools.

Tom Hunter, who describes himself as a "serial entrepreneur," is to fund a new training programme for primary and secondary heads with the aim of turning schools into more enterprising organisations. The initiative will also be supported financially by the Executive.

Dr Hunter, who chairs the Scottish Entrepreneurial Exchange, has already put up pound;2 million, which the Executive quickly matched, to help implement the Executive's pound;44m plans for enterprise education, Determined to Succeed. Significantly, he was invited to launch it in March with Jack McConnell, the First Minister, who called it his "flagship policy" for schools.

Ewan Hunter (no relation), chief executive of the Hunter Foundation which promotes entrepreneurship, confirmed to The TESS that a programme for heads was proposed and a pilot scheme would be launched later this year.

Mr Hunter said: "While currently still under development, the unique programme will see 100 primary and secondary headteachers further develop their leadership skills through a relatively new model of intervention.

"As well as supporting skills development, the programme will also assist headteachers in developing models for enterprising cultures within their schools."

The "new model of intervention" is a reference to the approach adopted by the Columba 1400 community and international leadership centre based in Skye, the chairman of which is Norman Drummond. He was for 12 years headteacher of Loretto School in Musselburgh and is taking a leading role in the development of the programme.

Headteachers participating in the new pilot will hence face an unusual trek to Skye, where they will take part in a five-day residential course.

Thereafter they will be supported with "ongoing mentoring," web-based resources and school visits.

Although Tom Hunter's starting point in his enterprise crusade is Scotland's poor record of starting new businesses (10th from the bottom of 37 countries surveyed last year), he insists his intention is not to produce "a classroom full of Richard Bransons".

"That would quite bad," he told the enterprise and lifelong learning committee in the last Parliament. "It's about building self-confidence, self-belief."

The Executive's involvement in the latest initiative makes it certain that heads will now get a taste of the philosophy which Mr McConnell described at the policy launch in March as the creation of a generation "who are much more willing to take risks and have a go, to try and fail and try again, and to be as ambitious as they can be."

* Entrepreneur

Tom Hunter, 42, began his business in 1984 with a family loan, pound;5,000 from the bank and a pound;40-a-week enterprise allowance. When he sold Sports Division 14 years later for pound;280m, its 240 stores employed 7,500.

He has given pound;5m to Strathclyde University's Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship.

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