Teachers: teach us to teach enterprise

The nation's educators want to be able to show their students the art of enterprise, a survey suggests. At the moment, though, they're not sure how...

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2011
Here at MT, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the UK’s ever-widening skills gap, particularly among the generation that’s about to enter the workforce. We’ve said before that entrepreneur skills are a particularly crucial aspect of that: not only do they teach leadership, but they provide young people with the basic knowledge they’ll need when they enter the workforce. But a new survey has suggested that despite the advantages entrepreneur education brings, the education system is still falling down where it counts: in fact, just three in 10 teachers say they know how to teach enterprise. Doesn’t bode well, does it?

It’s not like teachers don’t think there’s a place in schools for enterprise education: of the 1,000-odd teachers surveyed by academies group The Aldridge Foundation, nine in 10 believe kids who are taught how to be entrepreneurs are better prepared when they eventually enter the world of business. Unfortunately, though, good intentions are only part of the solution: only a third say they were shown how to teach enterprise as part of their teacher training. Which certainly isn’t enough to create the army of Bright Young Things the Government is hoping will kick-start the economy.

Apparently, seven in 10 teachers think enterprise skills should be a part of their training. Which leads Rod Aldridge, the man behind academies group the Aldridge Foundation (and a man unafraid of using phrases like ‘waging war on the enemies of enterprise’), to conclude that there’s only one solution. We should be teaching teachers to teach enterprise. And in turn, says Aldridge, the National Curriculum should ‘embed the entrepreneurial mindset at the centre of school life’.  

Of course, that’s all well and good – but what with GCSEs, SATs, A-Levels, IBs and OWLs to contend with, the idea of having to teach an extra set of skills may be more than some overworked teachers can handle. And it does raise the question of whether, even if they’ve had training, school teachers are the right people to teach enterprise. After all, an RE teacher doesn’t exactly have the risk-taking mentality the average entrepreneur does.

That said, with unemployment among 16-24-year-olds persistently high, any idea that might give the yoof an edge certainly shouldn’t be dismissed outright…

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