All In For Enterprise Education

Posted in Blog by mike with No Comments

Feb2014 07

School's View
Forestdale is one of our Partner Primary schools. Enabling Enterprise projects are integrated in their learning schedule for every year group and students regularly go on trips to top businesses. Senior Associate Mike Zatyka caught up with Headteacher Rebecca Foster and Deputy Head Molly Graham to get their perspective on the EE Partner School Package.

A Whole School Approach

MZ: Why have Forestdale taken a whole school approach?

RF: Looking at the new curriculum, we were keen to develop methods of the teaching skills across the school. The whole-school approach allowed us to embrace the idea of creativity and divergent thinking and embed it across all areas of the curriculum. We also wanted to continue and expand the early introduction of work ethics and skills which are relevant and necessary for our community and our students’ future.

MZ: What has been the best thing about the Enabling Enterprise partnership?

RF: For our students, the best things has been seeing their skills, ideas and confidence develop. The impact of enterprise activities has been strengthened by the fact students see that everyone is working on enterprise projects across the school. It’s also been great for parents to see this as part of our ethos.

MG: For our staff team it’s been great to have additional opportunists for the whole team to work collaboratively and share ideas and best practice, reinforcing teamwork across the whole school.

MZ:What has been challenging about implementing a whole school approach?

MG: Timetabling all the projects in has been a challenge and to get around this we have tried different approaches. This term for example, nearly all the projects will run together in an enterprise week.

RF: While the trips have been fantastic experiences for our students, the financial implications of arranging transport are also an important consideration. We have decided to finance the majority of trips and not request payment from parents.

School View
At a recent student visit to the University of Birmingham, we got a chance to catch up with Forestdale’s Drew Griffiths, who over the past few years has guided five classes through EE projects. We were keen to get his perspective on what makes a great EE project and share a few top tips.

A Teacher’s Eye View

MZ: How did you go about planning the projects into the curriculum?

DG: Last year (our first year) the projects were done as stand-alone topics outside the curriculum. This year we were keen to ensure they linked to our topic based curriculum as much as possible.

We were able to build ‘Trash to Treasure’ into the DT and Science curriculum where the topic was ‘Flight Engineers’. As students began collecting recycled materials and sketching toy designs, we added flight as an additional requirement for the toys. The project has been a real boost to the topic by helping to engage students in the core curriculum areas.

MZ: What advice would you give to teachers about to start enterprise projects with their students?

DG: I think the most important thing is to focus on the process rather than the outcome. For example how can you ensure student teams experience all the stages of product development rather than ensuring they come out with quality products. As long as students regularly reflect on the challenges they are facing they will learn a lot from their mistakes and feel engaged because they are in the driver’s seat.

These types of projects are also a great opportunity for less academically able students to really shine, so it’s important to make sure they are in the right groups. To ensure everyone is engaged you can change the student teams round if you have to and you should circulate team roles to make sure students get a taste of each.

MZ: You mentioned that less academically able students often excel at the enterprise projects, why do you think that is?

DG: It’s a completely different way of learning. The group dynamic changes how students perceive their abilities. Students who might lack confidence in writing things down are often more oral in their learning and good verbal communicators. They get the opportunity to share their ideas with team mates and have these scribed down by their peers, giving them a new way to express their learning.

There’s also a surprising impact on behaviour management. Once the children know what they doing, even the children with the most challenging behaviour are engaged and enthused. While these students can often lose focus, the nature of the activities is such that they don’t have time to come off task – they’re always questioning each other. It’s a really dynamic way of learning which can stop them becoming isolated through their own behaviour.

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