Flagship bus to spread the word

8th September 2006 at 01:00
As research shows there's still confusion about enterprise education, the Scottish Executive takes its message on the road

The Scottish Executive's efforts to put enterprise education at the heart of the curriculum still face a struggle to become fully accepted and appear to many to be disjointed - even in the education authority where it is regarded as having made considerable progress.

An independent report evaluating the Determined to Succeed programme in West Lothian suggests that confusion still exists over whether the purpose of enterprise education is to promote economic development or whether it is just "good education".

Nonetheless, the Scottish Executive this week added more wheels to its Pounds 86 million flagship vehicle by launching a Determined to Succeed bus, which will function as a mobile radio studio and visit schools all over Scotland this year.

But in his report on West Lothian, Brian Twiddle, former director of the Centre for Work and Enterprise at Strathclyde University, reports that most elected officials and employees concerned with economic development in the authority saw the purpose of enterprise in education as improving the skills of the future workforce.

Teachers, however, thought that embedding enterprise in education in the curriculum could improve pupil motivation across a range of activities - not just employment or self-employment.

When the "economic" group was pressed, it conceded the value of developing enterprising qualities in young people, while the "education" group acknowledged that developing the ability to earn a living was an integral part of enterprise in education.

In comments which are likely to hold true for other authorities, Mr Twiddle's report noted: "Quite rightly, a great deal of effort has gone into spreading the enterprise in education message, but little thought has been given to how all this fits together, whether there are gaps in a pupil's experience or whether the same type of activity is repeated to the point where pupils lose the excitement and fun of enterprise." Overall, however, West Lothian was said to be making impressive progress in implementing Determined to Succeed, and was at the forefront of enterprise in education developments.

The executive clearly feels that the programme needs another boost and sent along Nicol Stephen, the Lifelong Learning Minister, to St Andrew's Secondary in Glasgow on Monday when he launched the roadshow. Backed by Radio Clyde, the Hunter Foundation and Stagecoach, it is intended to be a vocational experience for pupils as well as showcasing the enterprise in education approach.

Mr Stephen described the policy as "going a long way to building confidence, ambition and an entrepreneurial outlook among young people."

Mr Twiddle's report on West Lothian noted that primary schools were making greater progress than secondary schools. It found "a very impressive" range of activities taking place in primary schools, although there was still work to be done to ensure enterprise in education was sustained by all teachers, particularly in the early stages of programmes "where enterprise still remains fragile".

Nursery classes were only just beginning to embrace enterprise. In secondary schools, the situation appeared more "patchy", Mr Twiddle concluded.

"Broadly, teachers fall into three groups: those who have been involved in enterprise in education for some time; those who have been helped by Determined to Succeed to see the potential of enterprise and have adopted at least elements of an enterprise approach; and those who remain either sceptical or have simply not engaged with the enterprise in education message.

"The middle group is growing and represents the success story of Determined to Succeed. It appears to be too early to say that enterprise in education is firmly embedded in all subjects in all secondary schools, but certainly the speed and direction of movement is impressive," he said.

The report added: "In both sectors, previously reluctant and unaware teachers, as well as those already adopting an enterprise approach, have found A Curriculum for Excellence to be hugely supportive. Almost all teachers believed that the learning and teaching aspects of A Curriculum for Excellence endorsed the messages of enterprise in education."

However, individual teachers, pupils, parents and perhaps co-ordinators were unable to see any articulation or progress in the enterprise in education activities.

And the problem remains of involving sufficient businesses in the programme, Mr Twiddle reported.

Mr Stephen said this week, however, that the target of establishing 2000 partnerships involving schools and businesses had been achieved.

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