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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 00:16 GMT
Pupils taught to be enterprising
spirit level
The aim is to give pupils a hands-on approach
Schools in England are getting official advice on how to teach students to be more enterprising.

It is part of part of a plan to encourage youngsters to develop business skills including innovation and risk management.

From next year, all 15 and 16 year olds will be entitled to five days of "enterprise activity".

Enterprise advisers funded by the Learning and Skills Council are working already in almost 1,000 schools.

The Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, said: "Enterprise education is vital to our future economic success.

"It equips young people with vital skills that businesses have told us that they want to see more of.

"This isn't just about growing the next generation of entrepreneurs; enterprise skills will be valuable to all young people."


The challenge for one group of teenagers: create 50 origami ducks and ship them over to France to sell.

The first task for students at Holywells High School in Ipswich was to form companies in groups of 10 and work out who was going to do what.

It's about what they'll be doing when they leave school
Assistant head Tony Hough
Roles, such as managing director and company chairman, all had to be decided upon before they devoted the day to organising their business venture.

In total 180 Year 9 pupils (aged 13 and 14) took part and the school hall has been a hive of activity, with pupils buying materials from a supply depot, making the ducks, designing a company logo, costing the shipping expenses to France and so on.

The event was to mark the first ever Enterprise Week, which aims to get pupils developing their entrepreneurial skills.

Chancellor Gordon Brown regularly says he wants more young people to set up in business.

But it is an uphill struggle, with a report by the former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Howard Davies, finding only 30% of pupils were getting any experience of enterprise before leaving school, preventing them from integrating easily into the world of work.

Looking beyond exams

Assistant head teacher at Holywells High, Tony Hough, said school should be about equipping young people with skills they could take into the workplace.

Chloe and Danielle said they learned about creativity and teamwork
The school has just appointed an enterprise co-ordinator to find ways of bring business skills into all aspects of school life.

"These youngsters will be much better prepared because it's about what they'll be doing when they leave school and this will make them want to come here," said Mr Hough.

"It's about learning about the world around them and how the business world impacts on our lives.

"The focus is all too often about exams, exams, exams. But this is about teamwork, about initiative, about running companies."

Chloe, 13, who was accountant for her company, said the day had encouraged her to be creative.

"I've been counting up the money, counting up how much the lorries will cost and petrol and how much the ferry will be. It's been really good fun."

Business adviser to her group, Danielle, 13, said she learned about teamwork.

"You can't work on your own, it's important to work together and in a team. It's really hard otherwise."

They haven't got our preconceived ideas and restrictions
Enterprise adviser Gilly Thomson
Gilly Thomson, who advises senior staff at Holywells High in her capacity as regional enterprise adviser, said the country had to encourage young people in this area so it had a workforce which could compete internationally.

"We need our youngsters to come out of school being able to use their imaginations, their initiatives and their enterprise skills."

And young people were often best able to come up with innovative ideas, she said.

"If you give young people a challenge, say to develop an engine to run a generator in West Africa, they will come up with ideas that adults wouldn't think of.

"They haven't got our preconceived ideas and restrictions and so they can think outside the box.

"They are like an untapped resource and we have to find ways of tapping that resource."

Events to mark Enterprise Week are running across the UK from 15 to 21 November.

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