Enterprise starts early

7th September 2001 at 01:00
THERE will, inevitably, be cynics who wonder why businessmen should back a pound;5 million scheme to make Scottish primary pupils more enterprising (page four), particularly since half the sum comes from their own pockets. Those with a keen eye for the main chance - one definition of enterprise - do not lightly put up money unless they expect a return.

Of course they do expect a return. But it is hardly an immediate one:

"think long term" is another definition of enterprise. In short, these men and women of enterprise want more people in Scotland to be like them. This is not just because following your own instincts can be personally fulfilling but because having more people like them means fewer obstacles for people like them when they do follow their entrepreneurial instincts. So, if it means that the work of schools is reinforced in the process, why snub the bonus?

From the education point of view, none of this is new, as Wendy Alexander, the Lifelong Learning Minister, acknowledged when she launched the latest initiative. Sixty per cent of primary schools are already involved in imaginative, classroom-based activities under the existing programme. But, although she was essentially relaunching the enterprise programme, Ms Alexander cannot just be accused of mere spin and hype: the latest plans scale new heights of ambition.

Enterprise education, in any case, was always a rather grand name to describe what the best schools have always done well - encouraging pupils to think for themselves, to solve problems and to face up to challenges. As Keir Bloomer points out on the preceding page, the agendas which dominate the world of work and the world of education are substantially in tune. The fusion of basic, personal and interpersonal skills is ultimately what this week's announcement is all about.

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