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Could your child be the next Cath Kidston?

FutureMore and more schools are running entrepreneurship programmes. What do children and young people learn from them?

The word ‘entrepreneurship’ is frequently mentioned in education today. Virtually all the secondary schools we visit, and many primary schools too, pride themselves on teaching their pupils the skills needed to launch and run a business.

And why not? Young people can learn an awful lot from developing their own products or ideas, then producing, marketing and selling them.

Many do this through Young Enterprise, the UK’s leading enterprise and financial education charity. It runs a plethora of programmes – from CV writing and interview preparation skills to understanding how to manage money and even setting up and running a real business for a year.

Young Enterprise [] works with more than 250,000 young people across the UK each year and makes a lasting impression on many of them. Indeed, its latest impact report found that 94 per cent of the charity’s Company Programme alumni are in education, employment and training, six per cent higher than the national average. It aims to increase its engagement with schools in the most disadvantaged areas from 38 per cent to 50 per cent by 2019.

Meanwhile some schools opt to run their own entrepreneurship programmes, notably Milton Abbey in Dorset and Moreton Hall in Shropshire.

Lower sixth pupils at Moreton Hall run Moreton Enterprises, a business venture established at the school 30 years ago. It comprises an on-site shopping mall with four retail businesses and three service businesses. Student directors, appointed via interview, work with external mentors to build on successes and come up with new ideas. The scheme provides work experience and insight into all aspects of running a business. As we said in our review of the school: 'It is seriously impressive.'

Milton Abbey [] recognised the importance of entrepreneurship several years ago and introduced its Entrepreneur in Residence scheme in 2014. This annual project gives pupils the support and guidance to develop their own small business ideas. Youngsters start by writing their own business plans, then present them to a business panel. After an interview the successful candidates are given £100 as a start-up investment to launch and grow their business. The winner of the annual competition is the candidate who shows the greatest growth and development of their business idea.

Milton Abbey’s Entrepreneur in Residence competition is fronted each year by a famous business figure, who gives a lecture at the school and holds one-to-one business surgery sessions with the candidates. Anya Hindmarch, Cath Kidston, Johnnie Boden and Charles Ross have all previously fronted the competition and this year (2017-18) it’s the turn of Nick Wheeler, founder and chairman of Charles Tyrwhitt.

We attended this year’s lecture at Milton Abbey [], hearing Nick Wheeler tell a packed hall how he built his company from scratch. You could hardly hear a pin drop as he highlighted the key elements needed to start a business – to have a vision, to be focused on what you want to achieve, to work hard, to have a passion for what you are doing and above all to be patient. What excellent advice.

Does your child’s school run an entrepreneurship programme? We’d love to hear about it. Email us at [email protected]

Children’s book of the monthRunning on empty book cover

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter is delighted to launch a new feature. Each month we’ll choose a brand-new book that we think children will enjoy.

Our choice for March is: Running on Empty by SE Durrant (Nosy Crow, £6.99). Age: 8+

AJ is an 11-year-old London boy whose parents have learning difficulties. He’s very close to his beloved grandfather, who not only keeps the family on track but takes his grandson running in the local park every day. When his grandfather dies AJ is determined to step into his shoes and look after his mum and dad. A talented athlete, he wants to keep running too, but he’s grown out of his trainers and hasn’t got any money for the gas meter, let alone some new running shoes. Writer SE Durrant’s second children’s novel is a warmhearted and thought-provoking read.

Going up, going down

Going up

Strike update. Strike action by university staff continues as negotiations to settle the dispute over pension reforms become more polarised. Academics and other affected university employees have been out in force on Twitter as well as the picket lines, adding a visual element to proceedings with photos of appropriately witty and erudite placards. Many students have had no lectures or seminars for several weeks and finalists will be particularly affected. There’s now talk of postponing final exams to ensure the quality of this year’s degrees isn’t called into question.

Top earners. Well, what do you know? According to figures (from PAYE and self-employed earnings data), the highest earners after five and ten years are medicine, economics and law graduates. Down at the bottom of this latest league table are creative arts graduates. The research was carried out by the DfE, no doubt as a prelude to its proposal that degree courses should be awarded gold, silver or bronze according to their ‘value’. The research also revealed that the gender pay gap starts early, even for men and women with the same degree.

Going down

Teacher numbers. Education secretary Damian Hinds has announced measures designed to stem the tide of teachers leaving the profession. The move was prompted by a report from the Public Accounts Committee that warned of ‘a growing sense of crisis’. Proposals include a reduction in non-teaching workload and a moratorium on changes to GCSE and A level exams.

Drama crisis. Sir Lenny Henry has added his voice to those protesting about cuts to arts education in schools. His comments came at the launch of Let’s Play, a National Theatre initiative to improve drama teaching in primary schools. Sir Lenny echoed Lord Lloyd Webber, who recently described cuts to school music lessons as ‘a national scandal’.

Disappearing staff rooms. They were once places of sanctuary for teachers and places of mystique for pupils – but many schools are now being built without staff rooms. Changes to school planning regulations in 2012 mean it’s no longer necessary to provide a separate ‘work and social’ area for teachers. Of course this could just be a way of maximising space, but teaching unions smell a rat. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told The Guardian: ‘While some schools are desperate for space, we suspect that some school managements just don’t want teachers talking together.’

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