Recipe for success

10th September 2004 at 01:00
Enterprise projects as simple as baking and selling cakes can be used to develop children's moral responsibility, writes Jane Middleton

Educating pupils on the importance of social and moral responsibilities regarding current affairs is a fundamental element of citizenship and a national priority.

The 5-14 personal and social development curriculum encourages children to evaluate their own potential, appreciate their own and others' contributions and establish relationships with a range of people. As a Primary 3 class teacher, I have been evaluating the extent to which some of these goals can be achieved through enterprise education.

The topic chosen involved the children baking cakes and selling them in school, with the profits going to actor David Hayman' s charity Spirit Aid: Children of the Rubble, which helps disadvantaged children in war-torn Afghanistan who lack resources for basic education.

The children had to work co-operatively to conduct market research, bake cakes hygienically, advertise their produce, sell it and operate an accounts book. This provided opportunities for developing self-awareness and self-esteem, and strengthened their communication skills. At the same time, citizenship was addressed: profits were going to charity and the pupils felt they were doing something for the good of the wider community.

Planning for the topic allowed children to face several unfamiliar situations and their confidence in tackling these was monitored.

One task was to design a poster to advertise the cake sale, which they had not done before. The children took turns to make comments about what should be included. Talking in mixed-ability groups enabled the less confident children to articulate their thoughts.

The children realised that they had to pull together to achieve the common goal of the enterprise. They felt responsible for meeting the demands of valid customers; they were not just doing the work to learn.

As the project progressed, the children communicated and interacted with growing confidence within a wider circle of people. They were also able to approach new challenges and difficulties with confidence. They thrived on positive comments from other children and parents when they raffled three Christmas cakes donated by supermarkets after an appeal for support. A photograph and paragraph in the local newspaper plus a thank you letter from David Hayman boosted their confidence.

Personal and social development is the foundation of education.

Fundamentally it is concerned with the advancement of life skills and encouraging children to take responsibility for their own lives. Enterprise in education encompasses many aspects of the curriculum and allows different avenues to achieving success through providing a service.

It is beneficial to nurture children's entrepreneurial talents at a young age and promote a culture of enterprise. A topic like this in the early stages of school can provide many fruitful opportunities for pupils to develop personally and socially.

If linked with PSD guidelines, it can also encourage the expression of participative approaches to community issues underpinned by shared values.

Pupils can emerge better prepared to take their place as citizens in their chosen social and work roles in the years ahead.

Jane Middleton teaches at Blacklaw Primary, East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire

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