Initiative pays for enterprising teachers

4th June 2010 at 01:00
Professional recognition status bestowed on group of 23 by GTCS

Teachers who have excelled in enterprise education - arguably the market leaders in their sector - were recognised at a ceremony in the Scottish Parliament last week.

With ring-fenced funding for Determined to Succeed, the Scottish Government's strategy for enterprise in education coming to an end next March, many are hoping that teachers' growing expertise in this area will allow the approach to continue to thrive.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) awarded 23 teachers "professional recognition", bringing the total number with this status, across all subjects, up to 631.

Chief executive Tony Finn said professional recognition allowed teachers to focus their continuing professional development on particular areas of interest, and to gain recognition for improving and sharing skills.

Among those recognised at the event, which the GTCS organised with the Determined to Succeed team, was Neil McLennan, national development officer for enterprise.

He considers it an area relevant to all subjects, and that social enterprise schemes are as valid as money-making ventures.

Mr McLennan, who is on a year's secondment to Learning and Teaching Scotland from his role as head of history at Edinburgh's Tynecastle High, said one of his proudest achievements in enterprise was handing over ownership of battlefield trips in France and Belgium to pupils: they would raise funds by running a tuckshop during the trips and making DVDs afterwards.

"Five Highers isn't enough anymore," he said. "That's just your passport - enterprise can give you the stamps on your passport that show you've been on lots of other journeys."

John Finlayson, Highland Council's educational development officer for enterprise education since being seconded from the headship at Skye's Portree Primary, looked back on several successful projects at the school. Pupils made a book and a CD-Rom entitled Seoid (Gaelic for "heroes") for which they recorded local elderly people's stories. "Got Your Number" involved selling house numbers to residents, so that emergency services could find places more easily.

The school won the Best Enterprise category at last year's Scottish Education Awards after pupils from nursery to P7 produced a 30-minute CD of children's songs in Gaelic, having realised there were no nursery television programmes in the language. "I think enterprise education should start from day one," said Mr Finlayson, who believes one of its biggest advantages is that it encourages children to take risks.

Margaret Pears, an enterprise development officer with East Dunbartonshire Council and former maths teacher, took her passion for social enterprise into a trial project with the Young Enterprise group at Lenzie Academy in 2007-08.

Pupils worked jointly with young people from a school in Malawi to produce fridge magnets, brooches and finger puppets. The funds raised allowed the Malawian school to start its own social enterprise project; 19 East Dunbartonshire schools have since started social enterprise projects.


Enterprise education of a sort has taken centre stage on BBC1 with Junior Apprentice, a version of the show involving tycoon Alan Sugar in which contestants are aged 16 and 17 (including Kirsty Cleaver, of Stonehaven's Mackie Academy).

It has the original's same mixture of hubris, incompetence and cut-throat tactics. One contestant bluntly proclaimed that she had every intention of realising her ambitions, unlike her mother; another stated that "no one wants to do a deal with an ugly person".

Even so, the GTCS-recognised enterprise experts thought aspects of the TV show could be useful in the classroom.

Margaret Pears said pupils could learn important lessons about planning, teamwork and time management by watching contestants' mistakes. It would have to be stressed, however, that the ultra-competitive, dog-eat-dog nature of the programme did not reflect the real world.

Neil McLennan also thought the programme could be useful, provided pupils realised it was a fairly narrow depiction of enterprise. He believes enterprise education should be about producing rounded citizens: "Mother Teresa was as much an entrepreneur as Alan Sugar."

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