Creating young entrepreneurs is a job for everyone

24th April 2015 at 01:00
Spirit of enterprise must be embedded widely, report says

The success of a scheme aiming to instil an "entrepreneurial mindset" into Scotland's young people will depend on it gaining the support of teachers across all subject areas, an evaluation has found.

Research into the pilot of the Enterprising Schools Project says that, although the new resources have been welcomed and enjoyed by staff and students, a number of challenges remain.

Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) is one of the key partners in the scheme, which aims to make enterprise part of the curriculum from primary to post-school education.

The evaluation report, written by consultant Jeane Macmillan, says that schools should not regard enterprise as "the domain of a particular group, for example the business studies department or a member of staff with a particular expertise in this area".

Ms Macmillan adds: "Developing practice and a whole-school approach will require enterprise to be featured on the school development plan so that time, resources and staff development are engaged in this pursuit."

YES chief executive Geoff Leask told TESS that to truly embed enterprise in schools, a change of culture was needed. Other challenges included tracking and measuring students' learning, he said: "We know enterprise education benefits young people, but the question is, how do teachers and school staff record the learning of young people?"

`Raising aspiration'

Funding for the Enterprising Schools Project was announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in January, although YES began work in seven pilot schools last August. Pledging pound;327,000 for the scheme, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government recognised the "key role of entrepreneurial activity in delivering sustainable economic growth" and was therefore "committed to raising aspiration towards enterprise and facilitating the growth of entrepreneurial businesses".

A fundamental part of the programme is creating a framework to give schools a star rating for their entrepreneurial activity. The seven pilot schools are already working with five partner agencies to embed enterprise into their curriculum, and the hope is that they will help to establish a peer-to-peer support model as the new tools are used more widely.

According to YES, the programme is designed to reflect Curriculum for Excellence, as well as building on the recommendations of the Wood Commission's report on developing Scotland's young workforce, published in June last year.

Leading Scottish businessman Sir Tom Farmer, honorary president of YES, said the programme could help young people to develop crucial skills. "Whether someone goes on to set up their own business or goes on to work in another organisation, these are skills that will be critical in today's world," he added.

Although the scheme has already proved successful in encouraging businesses to work with schools, the report says that school leaders have identified employer engagement as something that is traditionally quite complex.

"It takes time, contacts, persistence, understanding of roles and willingness on the part of both businesses and schools," the report states.

Building closer relationships between businesses and schools is one of the Wood commission's central recommendations.

`Not just advice'

Stephen Ross, headteacher of Craigroyston Community High School in Edinburgh, says his school's relationships with the business community have been hugely beneficial to pupils and go beyond occasional visits.

"We wanted to bring business in - not just for advice, but to challenge and offer to the businesses to be involved in our new curriculum," he says.

Members of staff from a number of subject areas have built a rapport with businesses and companies.

"It is about trying to get ownership into the individual members of staff," Mr Ross adds.

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