18 Oct Enterprise in primary schools: ideas and inspiration
Clever Tykes is passionate about enterprise education and the team has carried out extensive research to determine exactly what enterprise in primary schools looks like today. Why is it that even though enterprise is not statutory at the primary or elementary school level, some schools regard it as an incredibly important part of their curriculum?
The quality and amount of primary enterprise education delivered varies widely between individual schools and local education authorities (LEAs). A common component of schools with a good standard of enterprise education is a proactive and forward-thinking headteacher, or another teacher who is willing to make a case for enterprise.
Teachers have the power to adopt and implement enterprise education if they are passionate about developing the associated skills and attitudes in their pupils. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
In this article we’ll look at what enterprise education looks like in schools as well as explore ideas to better integrate it.
Enterprise in primary schools: what does it look like?
Enterprise in schools takes many forms. Some schools regard it as an important subject across the curriculum and integrate elements into maths, IT, design and other subjects. This can give real-life context to problems and projects that students face. It is common for schools to carry out some enterprise education around events such as school fetes, seasonal holidays and cake sales to help children’s understanding of the world of business.
Some schools use their time allocated for PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) or citizenship to integrate enterprise because it represents a perfect platform from which to develop strong character traits and discuss real world topics. Clever Tykes has worked with numerous schools that have used their books and enterprise teaching resources to carry out a year’s worth of teaching, within the school day or during after school enterprise clubs.
Here’s the interesting thing:
Clever Tykes works with a wide range of primary schools across the UK. Both the degree of focus on enterprise education and how it is delivered varies wildly and we see a range of results and outcomes. What is your school doing about promoting enterprise in children?
Enterprise education is not part of the primary curriculum so, by definition, primary enterprise education is an extra-curricular endeavour. Why then, do some schools regard it as integral to the development of their children?
Ultimately, we want to help children develop an enterprising mindset and build the associated skills. Let’s take look at the ways schools can bring enterprise education into the classroom.
Enterprise ideas for schools
1. After school enterprise club
After school enterprise clubs are a great way of promoting enterprise in children. They are regular, they promote independent learning and children can be more creative because they’re outside a formal classroom environment. These clubs may be lead by a teacher with some interest or experience of business or by someone from outside the school. This person may be a parent, school governor or from a recognised enterprise education organisation. Ideally they have some real-life business experience.
Projects can last several weeks or an entire school term or year. Each week, the group meets and makes decisions about their business such as the initial idea, the roles of members, production and delivery of the product or service, pricing and profit sharing!
2. Enterprise days and challenges
Enterprise days are usually delivered by enterprise education specialists who work with schools regularly to nurture enterprising behaviour in children. The days take children outside their normal timetable and enable them to spend the time on a project, learning about different elements of enterprise and business. Children can benefit enormously from a memorable day and gain some great exposure to people passionate about enterprise.
The day usually begins by outlining the aims of the session or challenge. Students then work in groups to plan their business according to the rules and objectives, before presenting their ideas at the end of the day. The “winners” can be decided by teachers or other students by way of scoring or votes. The project could simply be to produce a business plan and a pitch or accompanying marketing campaign. Take it one step further by providing materials from which the students can make products or prototypes.
3. School fetes, bake sales and harvest festival
Depending on the angle taken by the school at these types of events, they can be excellent ways of promoting enterprise in children. All of these events provide experience of the market place and how money is exchanged for goods or services. For many schools, this may be the only time they introduce these kinds of principles, in which case they are promoting enterprise in children by accident!
Pupils can buy items to sell or buy the ingredients to make the products from. Deciding prices and calculating profit margins, including their time input and any wastage or unsold stock is a crucial task. Producing signage to help sell products and collecting customer feedback adds to the fun and learning experience.
4. PSHE or citizenship
Adopting enterprise education as part of PSHE, health classes, or citizenship is a perfect strategy for schools looking to fit everything into the normal school day. Effective enterprise teaching resources will enable enterprise to be delivered alongside a citizenship curriculum.
This approach is grounded in practicality; it can be done without taking students out of their normal day or having to work after hours. Anchoring enterprise in one lesson per week means other areas can be added into maths or English, if the resources are available.
5. Guided reading
This is perhaps the easiest way of introducing enterprise to younger students. Children can simply read a storybook that inspires enterprise in place of another reading book of the appropriate reading level. Parents and teachers can develop a child’s understanding of enterprise through comprehension exercises and discussions about the text. For children ages 6-9, the Clever Tykes books are perfect for this exercise, but any storybook with messages of resourcefulness and resilience can work well.
6. Build a culture of enterprise at school
Even without specific enterprise lessons or activities, it’s possible to make schooling positive for a child’s outlook and prospects. Sometimes, schooling can become a process of following instructions, ticking boxes and making grades, just to make it to the next level of school or higher education. This isn’t always conducive to helping children think expansively or entrepreneurially.
Being more open to alternative solutions to problems, and encouraging children to try new things and be prepared to fail are just some of the tactics to help kids remain curious about life.
Read more about creating an enterprising culture at school here. You will also find loads of tips in the book How to raise entrepreneurial kids by Jodie Cook and Daniel Priestley, which will provide plenty more ideas.
Remember, if you’re working with kids ages 6-9, the Clever Tykes stories are perfect to develop an enterprising mindset. They’re available on Amazon all over the world, here are the links for the Amazon US store and the UK store.