Schools told to be more enterprising
The pitfalls emerged from a searching study of the schools enterprise programme (SEP), which came to an end this week to be replaced by the Determined to Succeed policy.
The SEP was judged to be highly effective in terms of the 11,035 teachers trained during its three years when it ran 227,551 projects - but there are some significant "barriers to success".
The training was rated as highly effective and "well above the norm" for professional development activities in education, in a research report compiled by Geoff Lindsay and Daniel Muijs of Warwick University.
Despite the SEP's successes, however, there is some evidence that those teachers who led the way on enterprise did not pass on their expertise to colleagues, and the study found that fewer than a quarter of other teachers in their schools were carrying out enterprise activities.
The researchers said the involvement of the whole school beyond individual teachers trained in the project is a crucial issue for the future of enterprise education.
"This appeared to be somewhat problematic in many schools," the report states.
It adds: "While trained teachers have enthusiastically taken up enterprise education, this does not mean that enterprise has been embedded in their schools."
A third of the 1,498 trained teachers in the 37 schools surveyed claimed that fewer than 10 per cent of teachers in their school were engaged in enterprise. Professor Lindsay and Dr Muijs suggested that a school could be described as enterprising only if more than three-quarters of teachers are taking part - a position described by just 18 per cent of the teachers surveyed.
The Executive's plan is that all pupils from P1 to S6 should be involved in an enterprise activity every year. But these new findings suggest that "there is still a way to go to make schools as a whole more enterprising".
The report notes that this lack of dissemination exists despite strong support for enterprise education - from more than 80 per cent of headteachers and education authorities.
The problem persists despite those teachers who had undergone training claiming that their school had an enterprising ethos - yet just 25 per cent of them had provided training to colleagues.
The report states: "It would appear that, notwithstanding respondents'
views that their schools are enterprising, there is still work to do to ensure that this is translated into action.
"Thus, while heads are supportive, there is clearly not a policy of in-school professional development and cascading in most schools. In view of the often fluid personnel situation in schools, the lack of in-school training and dissemination may be a problem."
The researchers suggest that a stronger focus on the whole school rather than the individual teacher during training may help to overcome some of these difficulties.
None the less the study found that, once classes were engaged, more than 90 per cent of teachers found enterprise activities to be motivating and enjoyable.
"These activities are seen to have had a number of positive effects on pupils, improving their motivation, self-confidence, organisational, communication and collaborative skills.
"They are seen to have learnt about the world of work and business, and some teachers believe there are spin-off effects on achievement in other subjects."