In order to be a successful entrepreneur the Aldridge Foundation have identified a number of attributes that need to be developed in young people if they are to succeed in their chosen careers / life path. These are; Teamwork, Creativity, Determination, Problem Solving, Risk Taking and Passion.
Here at Vale we consider it vital that pupils not only focus on these skills during curriculum time in lessons, but are also given real life experiences to help them develop these key skills. This has become a mantra for the entrepreneurial focus in school → it’s about making school a real experience that properly prepares pupils for their future.
This quest for creating real life experiences necessitates engagement with the local and wider community. It’s also about making pupils realise that their opportunities to develop these skills is not limited to their time in school. Through our Advance@Vale programme we seek to explore all these attributes and allow pupils to assess themselves in respect of initiating, developing and embedding these vital skills. Year 7’s have each received a Bronze Award booklet that takes them through the programme. It builds on existing experiences and seeks to suggest opportunities for development, pupils can then recognise opportunities. School also works hard to create opportunities for the pupils, yet it is vital that pupils themselves take responsibility for their own development and are also motivated enough to take the chances that come their way.
The Bronze Award needs to be supported by evidence and then further validated by a formal interview process. Successful completion leads onto further Silver & Gold Awards which then become a gateway to work experience placements. The Advance@Vale programme is delivered initially through form time, and will run right across the school. If the pupils really wish to have an entrepreneurial approach to their career and life, then they must take responsibility for it.
This links in nicely with the 21st Century Legacy programme that we are running this year with years 7 & 8. ‘The be the best you can be’ programme was established to provide a legacy for the London Olympics. It seeks to allow young people to take more control of their lives by becoming more self-aware and self-responsible, this therefore empowers them to follow their dreams and be someone special and unique. In order to take this huge step curriculum time has been devoted to embedding the programme, for the young people here at Vale, as this idea of responsibility is absolutely vital to future success of pupils and therefore the school itself. Workbooks are provided for the pupils, who will be coached to achieve the aim of being the best they can be.
At the heart of developing an entrepreneurial ethos/spirit at Vale we feel it’s vital to make a connection with wider society, and in doing so create real opportunities for students. This allows a more enriching and diverse school experience whereby they can put what they have learned into practice, and hopefully begin to formulate plans for the future. In this sense this is where the entrepreneurial ethos links into the inspirational careers advice that we offer in school. This advice is informed by the ‘real’ situations that pupils experience. Creating that reality provides something more of a challenge, yet our enrichment programme allows such opportunities to develop and grow. It has enabled pupils to work with a number of organisations on a variety of projects/tasks that not only benefit the community, develop entrepreneurial skills but vitally give students experience. Discussions with employers indicate their dismay at school leavers being underprepared for entry into the workplace, therefore we try to provide opportunities for our students to gain a wide range of experiences.
As a school we carry the responsibility to make school as relevant as possible to the young people. Our link up with local employers has seen pupils engaging in a range of activities both in school and on site at workplace environments. Such engagements have the potential to impact positively on young people, employers, local community and therefore wider society. These vital links continue to develop which enables us to offer an increasing range of experiences. Pupils are encouraged to have a go at all opportunities that come their way, thus helping to inform future life choices.
Finally, as a school we have a social responsibility to the local community and we therefore have sought to develop our Soup@Vale initiative which is a social enterprise that brings the community together, whilst also looking to encourage a whole range of community projects. Plans are in place to launch this exiting idea which just needs funding to see us open our doors to all manner of local organisations.