Be bold and be enterprising

26th March 2004 at 00:00
The enterprise education initiative could be the vehicle for other changes in schools, a conference heard last week from two radically different perspectives.

John Mulgrew, director of education in East Ayrshire, said that education authorities must be more involved in initial teacher education where changes were essential if enterprise education is to be delivered successfully.

Meanwhile Douglas Osler, former head of the inspectorate, called for non-teachers to play a part.

Both were speaking at a "making it work" conference at Strathclyde University's Jordanhill campus, the second national event organised by the Enterprising Careers centre at the university.

Mr Mulgrew told 200 delegates that the pound;44 million initiative, backed by the Scottish Executive and the tycoon Tom Hunter, had assigned a key role to local authorities. The role of external agencies is to provide innovative support.

The authorities, he ventured, had already been successful in getting the induction programme for probationer teachers off the ground, part of which deals with enterprise in education. This now needed to be extended.

"The positive feedback I am getting from probationers on enterprise in education indicates that they appreciate what they are getting in terms of professional development and support," Mr Mulgrew said.

"Now that we are having a national review of initial teacher education, it is a logical follow-through to seek an answer to the question - what more could local authorities be doing to train their employees in the future?

"The partnership between the authorities and the teacher education institutions has to be redefined to give the authorities a chance to make a significant input into the teacher education process."

Moreen Smith, fellow in enterprise education at Strathclyde University, stressed the importance of following through probationer training into evaluating its impact in the classroom.

Mr Mulgrew, who sat on the committee that produced the Determined to Succeed report on which the Executive's "flagship" policy is based, reinforced the official message that enterprise in education is not about wealth creation. It had to be at "the heartland" of Scottish education because "young people badly need to build up their confidence and abilities to be creative".

Mr Mulgrew welcomed an end to the "episodic initiatives" of the past and the arrival of a national strategy for enterprise education. This was made easier not just by the significant funding for the initiative but by the fact that schools have been given "room to breathe and room to be creative".

Responding to questions at the conference, Mr Osler, visiting professor in enterprise education at Strathclyde University, suggested that the post-McCrone changes in the management structures in schools offered an opportunity to give enterprising education a higher profile.

It is now possible to appoint a senior manager with a specific enterprise remit, and non-teachers could play a major role. Mr Osler said: "In the context of enterprise education and of new community schools, it is not unreasonable to believe that there are professionals not trained as teachers who might have a lot to offer within a school - for example, behaviour counsellors or people with particular experience of enterprise education but not necessarily trained teachers.

"There is a range of professionals who could contribute something useful, who could either be full-time in one school or part-time shared between schools. That is the kind of flexibility we need to use post-McCrone."

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