They said it could not be assessed, but secondary pupils are now being given the chance to earn qualifications in enterprise. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has finally given the go-ahead for two GCSE-level awards in "developing enterprise capabilities," which encourage creative and innovative thinking.
The awards are broader than existing business and entrepreneurship qualifications, with pupils developing ideas and putting them into action.
Pupils will be assessed on the basis of a project, which could be anything from setting up a charity to a real company. Some pupils are already working towards the coursework-only qualifications, but up to 500 are expected to have signed up by January. The qualifications were initiated by the Academy of Enterprise, established to promote enterprise learning.
Alastair Falk, the academy's director, said: "Pupils taking the qualification will devise, develop and evaluate their own project in any area of the curriculum. It is about encouraging pupils to be enterprising and innovative."
He said that the purely enterprise-based qualification was a breakthrough, because there had previously been concerns from the Government over how it could be assessed.
The original concept of the certificate was developed over four years by William Percy, director of business and enterprise at the Ellowes Hall school in Dudley. More than 200 pupils in Year 10 at the school have started working towards the qualifications this year.
Mr Percy is also working on a PhD on how the subject can raise pupils'
aspirations. He said: "It is a great way to engage the disengaged and raise aspirations and self-esteem. The qualifications have only just gone live but there is a lot of interest. It is a student-centred course which has the flexibility to mould to local needs."
The Level 2 award and certificate are both awarded by Northern Council for Further Education, which is working to introduce an A-level equivalent qualification in enterprise by September 2007.
Last week, the Government announced a pound;10million package to boost social enterprise in schools and the wider community.