The mouse ran up the...

13th June 2003 at 01:00
Youngsters from Carmunnock primary in Glasgow were among children from 95 west of Scotland schools who attended a special showcase event last week to celebrate enterprising activities, Neil Munro writes.

Their "Hickory Dickory Clock" company specialises in producing handcrafted clocks under the Schools Enterprise Programme, which is aimed at 5-14s.

Chris van der Kuyl, a leading entrepreneur in the digital entertainment industry, was on hand (right) to bless "the great enthusiasm for enterprise among schoolchildren".

Yet another celebration of enterprise education took place in Edinburgh on Tuesday in a national event for 40 schools from across Scotland, including an "infant challenge" in which P1-P3 pupils were put through their paces.

Meanwhile 12 Scottish schools will be involved in an "enterprise olympics" next week which will be opened in a webcast from Downing Street by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They will compete in a global challenge involving 600 secondary-age pupils from 15 countries, designed to test skills in science, business, marketing, presentation and communication.

In a further development, the Quality Scotland organisation issued an enterprise in education guide for use at the 5-14 stages, designed to help schools evaluate the work their pupils are doing.

But an influential call came this week for enterprise education to be regarded as an approach to learning as well as a practical experience.

Writing in this week's special feature on enterprise education (ScotlandPlus, pages 5-9), Douglas Osler, visiting professor in enterprise education at Strathclyde University, says that enterprising action should guide the way the school is run, how teachers teach and the thinking that shapes the curriculum.

A school providing set-piece enterprise opportunities must "practise what it preaches".

Professor Osler, a long-standing proponent of the initiative, acknowledged that enterprise education is often seen as "a lot of effort designed to produce a few entrepreneurs".

But he added: "Being entrepreneurial can show in ways other than starting a profitable business and the associated skills have a wide application.

"We need community and social activists who think in an entrepreneurial way. It is as important for society to involve in community projects people who are entrepreneurial as it is to channel their energies into business.

"It is this range of possibilities that makes enterprising education central to the outcomes of a good education in today's terms - for all, including the prospective entrepreneurs."

The Scottish Executive launched its major new drive in January to include all schools and pupils in enterprise education, backed by pound;44 million over three years - of which pound;2 million has been committed by Tom Hunter, the millionaire businessman.

Ministers supported the recommendations in the Determined to Succeed report which included 2,000 partnership agreements between schools and businesses by 2006, an annual entitlement to enterprise activities for all pupils from P1 to S6 and work-based vocational learning for every pupil over the age of 14.

This will be a much tougher regime than ever before and will be reinforced by HMI's quality indicators to ensure the recommendations are being implemented. A national forum, chaired by a minister, will be established to oversee the initiative.

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