16 Feb Ways to get enterprise into the curriculum
Until Key Stage 4, enterprise forms no part of the compulsory curriculum, here in the UK. Whether or not you believe it should, many teachers are looking for ways to integrate elements of enterprise education into other areas of core learning. Enterprise education holds the key to both developing a wide range of important life skills and opening up a world of career opportunities outside the traditional university, grad scheme, solid career job path. I’m going to list some of the easiest ways teachers can get enterprise into the core curriculum at all levels of study, across numerous subjects.
Before we start, something important:
I, for one, am not an advocate of putting enterprise education on the statutory curriculum since I believe enterprise should be adopted out of choice, rather than forced upon teachers with an already packed teaching itinerary. You can read more about my thoughts on this here.
Integrating enterprise into the core curriculum
First off, let’s be clear: the days of enterprise education earning discreet lessons are a long way off. Therefore, the best avenue to pursue, of you’re really keen to nurture these skills in schools, is through after school enterprise clubs. This is when discreet enterprise learning can actually take place without it taking up core curriculum time during the school day. This aside, let’s focus on ways we can get enterprise into the regular school day.
Use art and design lessons to develop marketing
Marketing is a fundamental element of virtually every business. We’re subjected to marketing and advertising by companies hundreds of times per day, often without realising it. Using art, design and event ICT to help children understand the basic principles of marketing is the perfect start. This includes the design and creation of flyers, branding or banners for website, posters or even product packaging. Talk about the messages conveyed, the colours used, and some examples of powerful branding in the real world like the ‘M’ in MacDonald’s, Cadbury’s purple colour or Nike’s famous ‘swoosh’ tick and Adidas’s three stripes logo. What is the advert or branding trying to get consumers to do?
Use IT lessons to design web pages or e-newsletters
So much of the world’s business takes place online. Most of their marketing, communication, selling and everyday business processes use the internet. Getting children used to the applications that use the internet and the media through which businesses communicate with each other and their customers gives them a head start. Using basic design software, even something like PowerPoint enables children to design websites and newsletters.
Write a company blog in English
You may have heard about something called ‘content marketing’. This is one of the main ways companies market themselves aver the internet in the 21st century and blogging is a great example of this. A great company blog post engages its audience about something they’re interested in and doesn’t just sell the company’s product or service.
For example, a dog grooming business might write about the best dogs to look after or the latest dog toys. A computer games company might write about the best games of the 1990s or the best ever computer game characters. The key to a useful blog is to get lots of readers to that page, engage them and keep them on the website. It’s a great way to indirectly promote a business.
Something similar would be writing a press release.
Write stories about success, mistakes and enterprise
Another good task for a creative writing session. Aside from reading about positive entrepreneurial role models, having children create their own can create much more affinity to that type of character. This activity can role out into drama as children act out scenarios involving enterprising behaviour. Having children empathise with the characters with key traits such as endeavour, innovation and resourcefulness will make them more enterprising.
Do financial education in maths
A lot of this happens in schools already. Putting a £ sign in front of most maths problems makes it financial education and such a simple change gives problems some real life context. Whilst financial education is not the same as enterprise education, it will ultimately help children understand the mechanics of businesses and society.
Discuss the great inventors in science
What happened to Edison, Einstein, Tesla after their great scientific advances and inventions? How did they monetise them or make a career out of their skills? Remember, Einstein was not a gifted student and real life stories of these successful and influential scientist have their place in science and maths lessons and provide some real inspiration for children.
Study bake sales and other events in a little more detail
Bake sales, summer fetes and other events are some children’s first experience of buying and selling. Whilst the exchange of money is a perfect exercise in maths and in developing money skills in children, the business principles often get overlooked. Give it more detail by working out the cost of ingredients, how much time is taken preparing the products, how to decide a price point and then how much profit is made.
Discuss supermarkets and the supply chain in food tech
Supermarkets play a major role in our everyday lives and impact on our eating, lifestyle and spending habits. How food goes from farmers in the UK or across the world to our shelves is a modern day phenomenon; one which is often overlooked. This is a perfect example of an industry everyone has lots of experience of without knowing it – it’s easy to discuss it alongside learning about the food itself.
Talk about the logistics, transport and holiday industries in geography
Why have some countries become tourist destinations? How many different companies are involved in providing holidays? Think about hotels and their staff, catering companies, the airlines, even clothes shops and pharmaceutical companies who make suncream. Think about the challenges of shipping heavy good from China all the way to the UK; what is the cost to the environment?
What are the extra-curricular alternatives?
If you’re looking to provide students with an entrepreneurial experience but are struggling to fit something meaningful into the core curriculum, there are two primary options.
Firstly, you could have an enterprise club, either held after school or at lunch times. This provides children regular exposure to enterprise learning that will hone their skills and give them something to do outside of the time-tabled curriculum each week.
A second option is to hold an enterprise day at your school. These are action-packed days that give kids a hit of entrepreneurial inspiration at the end of a school term. Being off timetable for a whole day gives everyone the chance to dive into a project and give it their full attention without affecting any other part of the school year.
Some of these tactics are incredibly easy ways to integrate enterprise into an existing curriculum. Even a few questions and a short discussion about the real-life implications of these subjects on society can make the world of difference to a child’s understanding. Really, that’s the least we should be trying to achieve – giving children a better understanding of the way society works as they learn more and form ideas about the role they want to play in it.