Make spirit of enterprise your business

20th August 2010 at 01:00
Report calls for curriculum-wide approach

Teachers are not doing enough to prepare children for the world of work, and are failing to teach them the skills they need to be entrepreneurial, according to Government-commissioned research.

Many schools are "not aware" of the importance of making children employable and have not overhauled their curriculum to include "enterprise", despite having received funding to do this, the new report claims.

Enterprise is part of PSHE, and all schools now have to offer work-related learning. The previous Government hoped this would lead to pupils being taught skills that would enable them to become enterprising in more subjects.

But researchers from the Young People's Enterprise Forum found many teachers are "not clear" about what enterprise really means and "are often not aware of the importance of delivering employability skills as well as skills required for self-employment".

They said that too many schools see enterprise as "something unique and separate from the curriculum, something that demands time from teaching staff and disruption to lesson plans".

Every secondary head receives a "school development grant" to invest in enterprise education. But many are using the money to pay for one-off events, such as days devoted to mock business challenges, and are "struggling" to move away from this "isolated provision".

The researchers, who surveyed 408 schools and visited 30, said many schools ran only "obvious" enterprise events. They said a common failing in enterprise teaching was running activities that were "almost modular, standalone chunks of provision; rather than focusing on developing wider employability skills through a whole-school approach".

"This lack of awareness suggests there is a need to provide schools with a range of tools to help ensure the fund is spent on quality Enterprise Education, including broad guidance on good practice for the use of funding," the report says.

In a report published two years ago, Ofsted inspectors also said that too few schools encourage children to be enterprising.

Duncan Cullimore, chief executive of the Economics, Business and Enterprise Association, said: "This is a new area of the curriculum for teachers, and it's a subject which is difficult for some to get their heads around. Because it's new, they need more support.

"Of course there's still a distance to go for the subject, but I think schools are getting there. Certainly more are teaching enterprise than a decade ago."

The researchers said the best schools are using their funding innovatively - spending it across different subject departments. This has made pupils more confident and motivated, and more aware of different careers available to them.

They recommended better enterprise training for teachers. They also want Ofsted to look at the career advice that schools offer and at children's knowledge of enterprise during inspections.

They also suggested that children's skills be recorded in an "enterprise passport", which they could use to supplement their CV.

Working life

Teachers at Westgate School in Slough, a specialist business and enterprise college, run regular events and activities for children.

The school has three specialist enterprise staff: an enterprise enrichment officer and two "coaches", who work to develop links between the school, businesses and the community.

All key stage 3 pupils spend one hour a week on business and enterprise- related skills, and each year group spends one day off-timetable a year, working in teams to demonstrate the skills they have learnt.

"The pupils have really accepted the enterprise challenge and grasped it with both hands," said director of specialism Debbie Hore.

"They can see the relevance of it both inside and outside the classroom."

  • Original headline: Schools told to make spirit of enterprise their business

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