You don't have to be rich to be an entrepreneur

28th March 2003 at 00:00
ENTERPRISE education, set to become the Scottish Executive's new "flagship" policy for schools, should be about more than encouraging young people to start businesses, according to the man advising the millionaire tycoon who helped shape the plans.

Jonathan Levie, director of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde University, urged schools to have a broader vision of "social entrepreneurship" which would involve responding to local needs and building something for the next generation.

Dr Levie told a conference in Glasgow: "We need to think beyond entrepreneurship as starting new businesses. There is entrepreneurial management in a wide range of settings: in public sector organisations, governments and local councils.

"Schools can benefit from identifying these people and bringing them into the classroom to talk about how they have created something which does good for society. It could be a new product that satisfies some safety problem or a new way of giving young people things to do in the evening."

The conference took place the day after the First Minister announced plans to make enterprise education his latest "flagship" policy.

Dr Levie heads the centre founded and funded by the influential entrepreneur Tom Hunter, who has put pound;2 million of his own money - now matched by the Executive - into supporting the pound;42 million schools enterprise initiative over the next three years.

His theme was taken up at one of the conference seminars where Ann Kerr, headteacher of Kingswells primary in Aberdeen, one of 10 schools taking part in a case study on education for citizenship, offered the broadest possible interpretation. "It is about teaching everyone in the community to scan the horizon for opportunities to make things better for themselves and those around them," she said.

One of the school's projects was a football coaching programme for pupils with Aberdeen FC and another involved pupils and parents in producing a school show.

Douglas Osler, former head of the inspectorate and a visiting professor in enterprise education at Strathclyde University, said being prescriptive would be "contrary to being enterprising".

Perhaps anticipating the new performance indicators for enterprise which HMI has been asked to devise, Professor Osler said: "You start by building enterprise into the way in which the school administers itself, the way it thinks about education and how it relates to the community. It has to really permeate the whole environment of the school.

"If a school does not practise what it preaches, there is no point in just preaching that enterprise is good for young people."

The conference was used as the launchpad for the Centre for Studies in Enterprise, Career Development and Work at Strathclyde University (Enterprising Careers for short). It takes over from the National Centre: Education for Work and Enterprise whose director, Brian Twiddle, has retired from the university.

Among new developments is an agreement with Careers Scotland to deliver chartered teacher programmes for enterprise in education. Sheila Semple, the centre's new director, said careers education had a key role. "Somehow young people need to be helped to translate their enterprise educational experiences into their own personal planning," she said.

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