Ministers pledged to take enterprise boldly forward

6th August 2004 at 01:00
The Scottish Executive has delivered a highly favourable verdict on its enterprise education policies - but has been unable to point to many concrete developments after only one year of implementation.

In a report on the first year of the Determined to Succeed agenda, ministers have made clear their ambitions remain undimmed.

In their foreword, Jim Wallace, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister, and Peter Peacock, Education Minister, say enterprise education is not simply another initiative but is here to stay. "Since it's fundamentally a long-term effort to change attitudes among our young people, it's not something we can achieve overnight - we're in this for the long haul."

Both ministers go on to cite leading educationists who describe the pound;44 million enterprise education policy as "one of the most significant strategies in compulsory education in the last two decades. It's a joined-up effort between local authorities, the Scottish Executive and the business community."

Although most of this initial report necessarily describes limited progress, Mr Wallace and Mr Peacock point to positive developments stemming from Determined to Succeed (DtS):

* Changing the way teachers are being trained.

* Appointing staff with a specific remit for enterprise education.

* Adopting enterprising approaches to learning and teaching.

* Making sure every young person has the chance of an enterprising experience.

The Executive's report says it has already arranged for education authorities to implement the programme, is developing a communications strategy, is working with others to devise materials, qualifications and quality indicators, and has set up a joint pound;4 million fund with the Hunter Foundation to support ventures such as leadership training for heads.

There is also to be a "cutting edge" website to provide practical help and advice for schools.

The initiative is some way off, however, from meeting its chief aims that every pupil from P1 to S6 must have an entitlement to enterprise activities once a year and that all pupils aged over 14 must have the chance of work-based vocational learning.

But work has begun to develop case study tasks for S5 and S6 pupils, based on local or Scottish businesses. This is expected to be completed by June next year and sent out to schools soon after.

Piloting is also taking place on qualifications for work-based vocational learning, although final approval will not come until the second half of next year.

The DtS strategy involves a major expansion in the involvement of businesses, although the target date for schools to draw up partnership agreements with local businesses is not until 2006. The aim is that there should be five such agreements in each school cluster, making a total of 2,000 across Scotland. A model scheme has already been drawn up.

Another piece of work in progress is the requirement that teachers should have an enterprise in education experience at least once every two years, as part of their continuing professional development.

But the report is at pains to point out that DtS is in "the very early stages of what is a long-term commitment to cultural change".

It acknowledges the scale of the ambition - "to encourage young people to be ambitious, self-confident, prepared to take calculated risks and not to fear failure". This requires a commitment not just from schools and teachers but from parents and the business community "without active engagement from which DtS will not work".

STUDIES IN SUCCESS

* Oldmachar Academy in Aberdeen staged an "enterprising event" on citizenship planned and organised by the pupils, who also ran workshops. It was said to be a considerable test of their organisational and communicative abilities.

* Raploch primary in Stirling, along with two other local schools, arranged a careers festival, which offered pupils the option of visiting a workplace. The aim was to ensure they did not dismiss out of hand the possibility that they might go on to further education or get a job immediately after leaving school.

* Lasswade High and other Midlothian schools worked with the Ikea furniture chain on product design, which has led to a teaching package for use throughout the UK.

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