pound;40m boost for enterprise

The drive to develop what Ministers call a "can do, will do" culture in schools, colleges and universities received a remarkable boost in the past week.

The Executive's spending review has sanctioned a 16-fold increase in the amount of public money allocated to educational activities related to work and enterprise.

There is a significant increase in the original sum of pound;2.5 million over three years to pound;40m over three years, but this news is strangely absent from the published proposals. It emerged virtually unnoticed at a media briefing on Tuesday from Iain Gray, the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister.

The existing public support is matched by pound;2.5m from the private sector, but the Minister said he did not expect businesses to match the extra pound;40m.

Mr Gray said he hoped the sums would pay off over time in creating "a more risk-taking and enterprising society." The Executive wants education-related enterprise activities at the heart of the curriculum from pre-school to university.

The Minister hoped this would work its way through into the universities in particular so that academics could capitalise on their research to create commercial enterprises and therefore jobs.

Details of exactly how the money is to be spent will await the outcome of the national review of education for work and enterprise, which is being carried out under the chairmanship of Nicol Stephen, the Deputy Education Minister.

One school which has shown an enterprising streak is Fair Isle in Shetland, one of the winners of this year's national awards for excellence in education for work and enterprise, sponsored by Motorola.

The 16 pupils worked with local people to make and sell goods such as hand-knitted garments and Fair Isle towels, taking full advantage of visiting cruise ships.

But Jessie McCaffrey, the head, stressed that these activities were used "as a context for the curriculum". The pupils developed decision-making abilities, social skills, working with others, presentational aptitudes, computer skills - and dealing in foreign currency.

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