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Where schools fear to venture

A "stubbornly high" number of teachers still believe that enterprise education is nothing to do with them, according to the official leading the Scottish Executive's Determined to Succeed strategy.

Lynn Hendry, its project officer, suggested this was the political legacy of narrow approaches to enterprise education. "We have a real job on our hands in schools to convince teachers that enterprise education is critical to the work they do," Ms Hendry said.

Most schools still had a "make and sell" approach to enterprise, which was fine but not enough.

In an address to further education college principals and board chairs, she acknowledged that they were beginning to make headway on new approaches in schools, and planning had already started with the local authorities for 2006-08 to move away from the "make and do" approach, and emphasise that enterprise education was for all young people, not just the disaffected and excluded.

She also underlined the importance of encouraging pupils to take risks and manage failure.

The conference, the annual outing of the Association of Scottish Colleges, also heard strong criticism of current approaches to enterprise and entrepreneurship in education from Roger Mullin, managing director of the Inter-Ed consultancy. "How many construction courses in colleges, for example, include self-employment as a feature?" Mr Mullin asked. "Very few, despite it being such a key aspect of the industry."

He was also critical of the approach to risk-taking among students and staff, which he believed should be embedded in all learning and not just restricted to those on an enterprise or entrepreneurial path.

His final call was for a recognition of the importance of realistic role models for students. "They should be able to meet people who are just like them," he said. "They don't need to meet yet another Richard Branson."

Jim Wallace, the outgoing Lifelong Learning Minister, told the conference that the programme to pilot skills for work courses for 14-16s in colleges has had such an enthusiastic response that it will be larger than envisaged.

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