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Project to free creative teenagers

YOUNG innovators' creativity is being stifled by inadequate teaching and the national curriculum, according to a survey of 600 industrialists and opinion-makers this week.

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts revealed the downbeat finding as it announced that it will get an extra pound;95 million from the Government for its work promoting creativity in industry and the classroom.

Part of the extra cash will go towards a mentoring programme for secondary school pupils and an Entrepreneurship in Schools scheme.

NESTA's survey was designed to find out what industrialists, academics and creative leaders felt was holding back innovators in the UK. More then 60 per cent highlighted funding as a major barrier to creativity. But 57 per cent blamed the education system for failing to nurture talent. The main problems they listed were: the demands of the national curriculum; the structures for assessing pupils' performance and inadequate teacher training.

Lord Puttnam, chair of NESTA, said that teachers had been reluctant to teach entrepreneurship in schools because of a "built-in insecurity" surrounding the subject.

"Teacher training has not engaged this area traditionally. It requires a breadth of training that has not been present," he said.

However, he said developments in teacher training and the curriculum, plus NESTA's schools' projects, gave him hope young innovators would receive appropriate support in the future.

Jeremy Newton, NESTA's chief executive officer, said it was not known how much would be spent on the Entrepreneurship in Schools scheme, but that it was likely to be hundreds of thousands of pounds rather than millions.

Educational projects already being run by NESTA include the Futurelab in Bristol, a high-tech laboratory creating developing educational software and equipment, and "Cyber Jemma", an online drama which encourages secondary schoolgirls to study science.

"Barriers to the Realisation of Creative Ideas" is available at www.nesta.org.uk

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