On 27 – 28 September 2012 the second ‘European Workshop on Enabling Teachers for Entrepreneurship Education – CPD’ took place at the Brdo Estate Conference Centre near Kranj, Slovenia.

Enabling Enterprise was represented among the 90 delegates from 24 EU Member States, Pre-Accession Countries and countries participating in the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) who attended the workshop, organised by the European Commission and hosted by the Slovenian Ministry of the Economy and the South East Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL).

The Focus

This conference was dedicated to exploring approaches to integrating Entrepreneurship Education in the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of teachers. It followed on from a conference held in Dublin on 2-4 May 2012 on Initial Teacher Training. The conference had a healthy mix of keynote addresses and presentations of good practice examples with group work and participatory methods. As a delegate, it was great to have the chance to hear more about what other countries were up to and what their experiences were of what works or not in providing a more entrepreneurial education.

The conference started with one obvious flaw which was that there was never a complete consensus of what we all meant by entrepreneurial education – half the conference, EE included, saw it more as developing the broad entrepreneurial skills and attributes. Things like being able to work together, to take risks and to spot opportunities.

The other half were convinced that it was all about the technical skills of setting up and running a business – including company registration, invoicing, tax returns and all.

The Conference venue in Brdo, Slovenia

And the answer…

The official summary highlighted a number of key themes that emerged from discussions, including;
• Entrepreneurship Education is not just about setting up businesses, it is a general approach to education that teaches important life skills.
• Entrepreneurship Education needs to be embedded as a ‘way of teaching’ across the curricula, rather than as a separate subject.
• Policy support is needed at local, national and EU level, adapted to different contexts.
• Continuity & long term commitment to continuing learning and putting learning into practice, is crucial.
• Motivation & incentives should be used to encourage both participation and reflection.
• Cooperation, networks and partnerships among practitioners and stakeholder engagement are crucial, policy alone cannot do it.

Our Reflections

These are certainly all observations that Enabling Enterprise can get behind. Particularly the idea that skill development cannot simply be achieved in one-off days, but that developing skills like communication, teamwork and the rest all take time and focus.

We also felt strongly throughout that policy alone would not be enough to make the shift we need – it has to be led by the schools themselves. That’s why we only ever build partnerships with schools directly and we really see them as partnerships, rather than simply being another programme to be imposed on a school.

The challenge of course is that embedding enterprise education requires the sort of curriculum change that is the most difficult. It can’t just be rolled out, and needs a lot of close work between partners to make it happen – which is why EE now works more closely with our schools to help implement the programmes on the ground.

The Guide

The Results

The end result of all that conference-ing is a surprisingly useful one: An exploration of the myriad of different possible approaches to enterprise or entrepreneurial education from countries across the EU.

As a guide for a teacher looking for inspiration, it’s a great starting point and also goes some way to drawing out what the pre-conditions for success are. It would be nice to be able to compare the different approaches in a deeper manner – for example, by having a framework that allowed the measurement of how effective each approach was.

As another step towards making enterprise education more rigorous though, it’s a decent one.

You can download the full document here:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/promoting-entrepreneurship/files/education/entredu-manual-fv_en.pdf

And see all the documents from the conference here:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/promoting-entrepreneurship/education-training-entrepreneurship/teacher-education-entrepreneurship/index_en.htm

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