Buying into more than simply sales

13th June 2003 at 01:00
Enterprise is not just about manufacturing and shopkeeping, as Eleanor Caldwell discovers at Swinton Primary

For pupils at Swinton Primary in Glasgow, enterprise means a lot more than producing and selling. It also means running different types of events and campaigns.

The school is one of 34 to achieve a gold award from Careers Scotland for its wide-ranging approach, which aims to instil a strong "can do" culture in the children. The school involves all 253 pupils, from P1 to P7, in a range of year-round activities which are entirely pupil led and have a strong 5-14 curricular base.

Careers Scotland co-ordinator Angela Jackson has worked closely with the school. Part of her role, she says, is to encourage teachers to see enterprise as a new approach to teaching.

The school used management guidelines written jointly by Ms Jackson and colleagues at Careers Scotland in collaboration with Glasgow City Council to link education for enterprise with Glasgow's 5-14 scheme of work. This gave an important framework for the teaching staff to develop activities with strong curricular links.

P6 teacher Anne Beveridge acts as the school's enterprise co-ordinator for one morning a week, while her class is covered internally. She has been "a real motivator" for the staff and children, says headteacher Carol Reid.

Teachers get a view of work outside school through short business placements. One placement in a graphic computer firm taught the teacher keyboard skills which she could pass on to pupils and retail work in department stores has been useful for teaching sales.

Enterprises are self-financing and profits are generally reinvested, although sometimes they are used to buy classroom equipment, such as pencils.

Sometimes the workers are paid a nominal salary, as when the P7 Educated Elves company contracted production of its Christmas Reindeer Dust to P2 pupils, who were hired following an interview and test. Harsh financial lessons are learned too. Bag production was hindered by a breakdown in communication between a P6 company's market research and production departments, which led to overproduction of a less popular range.

The P3s demonstrated enterprise skills in creating a one-day Museum of Invention. They gathered gadgets and inventions from the 1930s-1960s, planned the exhibition space and advertising, appointed guides and distributed invitations.

The school's Daffodil Tea event gained a new element this year when the P4s decided to add dancing to the occasion and present the mostly elderly visitors with a small gift. The enterprise education focus was on logistical and financial planning with a personal and social education slant from working with people in the local community.

At an environmental fair, P7 pupils astonished teachers with some remarkable experiments. Nutrition lessons inspired one girl to remove moisture from different food types and analyse the remaining nutritional values. One boy told visitors about how he froze an assortment of live flies and tried resuscitating them at different times. Visitors were surprised to learn that some had survived the experience.

Work on environment enterprise projects dovetails with the school's participation in Glasgow City Council's annual Rosebowl Competition, of which it is a past winner at gold and silver levels. Planning work on recycling and environmental protection also gave ideas for exhibits at the Museum of Invention.

All the classes choose a charity and raise money for it throughout the year, which requires entrepreneurial skills. The P7s' fund-raising for Water Aid involved a presentation at assembly - which was good practice for speaking assessment and boosted self-esteem - advertising the cause and collecting 1p and 2p coins.

Mrs Reid also saw participation in the national mock election for the Scottish parliament as enterprise education. Running campaigns gave party activists and candidates a clear focus for developing organisational skills.

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