The European Commission has reported in “Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe” that eight countries now have specific strategies to promote entrepreneurship through education. While Wales is included in the eight, England sadly is not. A further thirteen include entrepreneurship in their national lifelong learning, youth or growth strategies. Again England does not feature. This is surely a sorry reflection on our national education policy which is keen to laud education as it used to be rather than what it should be for the future. I believe that within schools themselves the whole notion of entrepreneurial spirit is not only valued but actively promoted. Having the good fortune to be located cheek by jowl beside Silicon Fen, the Foundation is well placed to draw inspiration from this unique entrepreneurial community.
Given the changing economic landscape in this country with the growth of small to medium sized businesses, entrepreneurship is surely vital for the future economic well being of our country. The spirit which lies at the heart of entrepreneurship should be positively encouraged and promoted in schools. Indeed, recognising this, many businesses, large and small, are opening their doors in partnership with schools and colleges, facilitating knowledge transfer and the motivation of entrepreneurial spirit among young people. The qualities recognised as springboards to entrepreneurial success: risk taking, collaboration, initiative, creativity, are beginning to take their rightful place on the scale of priorities for some schools too. Schools like our own are stepping outside of the national curriculum to ensure that students have the very best opportunities to develop essential skills for entrepreneurial success, both in their professional and personal lives.
So while Denmark, Lithuania, Estonia, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Wales and Flemish speaking Belgium are to be congratulated for their national initiatives, I feel that some schools in England deserve even more praise for taken the initiative themselves, demonstrating their own entrepreneurial spirit and claiming ambition on behalf of their students.
In February 2013, the Stephen Perse Foundation will be staging a national conference to discuss and debate the question: ‘what is learning for?’. Thought leaders and entrepreneurs from education, business, not-for-profit and technology sectors will present their thoughts and findings. I have no doubt that the need for education to become an integral force in driving the nation’s economy and solving the challenges of global sustainability and environmental issues will be high on the agenda.