Neil McLennan: We need ‘enterprise education’ more than ever

'Determined to Succeed' was a successful project until funding ceased. Picture: Getty
'Determined to Succeed' was a successful project until funding ceased. Picture: Getty
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WITH unemployment doubling and economic growth flatlining, the focus on education to deliver has never been greater. A combined effort can and will respond to this national crisis.

While the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is being heralded as a panacea for education’s inputs to a changing global economy and social makeup, one must remember the word curriculum essentially means a rocky road. Curriculum structures are all very well, but pedagogy makes or breaks it.

Running alongside the phased roll-out of CfE was one of the most successful educational initiatives this country has seen. It prepared learners with the skills required for learning, life and work, while making them work-ready and equipped with a “can-do, will-do” attitude.

The Determined to Succeed project brought about fundamental changes in the way teachers teach (pedagogy, not systems or structure), the way learners learn and one linking education the world beyond the walls of schools and education establishments.

Despite operating with two successive governments, the initiative ground to a halt when ring-fenced funding was stopped. Enterprise was “embedded”, according to civil servants who themselves were disappointed to see the end of such a successful programme.

One only has to look at Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports to see the abrupt ending of such projects is accompanied by a sharp decline in impact, most noticeably in entrepreneurial start ups.

There have been two missed opportunities in CfE roll-out: refocusing on Building the Curriculum 4 (Skills for Learning Life and Work) (BtC4) and taking seriously the discussions of the Higher Order Thinking Skills Excellence Group. The work of the latter group needs to be re-established and a summary document with succinct, applicable guidance on BtC4 needs to be written and effectively launched to educators and the business community.

The government would do well to look at ways to re-establish a ring-fenced commitment to enterprise education.

• Neil McLennan is president of the Enterprise Practitioners’ Association.