Having attended the Enterprising Practitioners Network (EPN) meeting  at Victoria Quay in Edinburgh recently, I was inspired to reflect on what stage we are at with Enterprise Education! The room was brimming with enthusiastic educators and business people who meet to share ideas, projects, and bolster the occasional flagging spirit in the pioneering world of Curriculum for Excellence. This truly is the estuary where the fresh water educators meet the sea dogs of the business fraternity and new ways of doing things spring to life in this unique environment.

The agenda included a challenging and interesting talk from Don Ledingam, director of Education for East Lothian – are there other and better ways of running education at Local Authority level?

At the moment we seem to be focused on “cheaper”, and also better, education  (BETT 2011 theme was “learning for less”!  As we know from the McCrone agreement, money does not necessarily create better systems, better exam results or even more inspirational teachers. However, I do believe less bureaucracy may result in cheaper but more creative and engaging education!  Teachers being allowed to focus on learning and teaching with less of a bureaucratic burden  and students being relieved of the stress of  constant assessment, will surely give more time for creative and innovative project work which  we know motivates our young people

We seem to have become obsessed with exam results without really asking if they are producing the kind of citizen we need in this post (?!) “bankers bonus” and million pound salary era.  This questioning has been prompted by viewing Ken Robinson’s 12 minute animation on “Changing Paradigms in Education, http:/ which was shown at the EPN event as a stimulus for us to reflect on the purpose of education.

As a Co-operator, where members act democratically, and profits go back into the business to benefit the community as well as the individual, the animation did make me question if we structure our Education as effectively as we could?  Just as PLC businesses want economic growth without really asking what benefits the money will bring other than more money, education is asking for more exam results without really asking if the education received is bringing benefits to all our young people as well as their communities. We still seem to have an academic snobbery, which tells our young people that Maths and Sciences are of more value than practical skills and that working in a shop is something you do if you can’t get into further education. Much of the really useful education, such as setting up and running a Young Co-op in a school or sitting a Duke of Edinburgh Award  happens as an extra curricular activity.

Unless we can value each pupil and their unique contribution to our society and not measure them against their potential economic output, we will not have equality in education, practically or perceptually.

It was inspiring to be amongst a group of educationalists, which for me include the business sector here, who are actively promoting enterprising attitudes towards learning and teaching to give all or young people (and their teachers!) a chance to find their strengths as well as their areas for development!  A bit like taking ownership and control of their own destiny – isn’t that a co-op?

Maybe this is the answer to the question I have been pondering- “is there a cheaper and better way of organising education?,  – a Co-operative!

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