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Headmaster's Blog- Teaching Entrepreneurship in Schools

Welcome to my new blog. With around 20 years teaching experience, gained in both the independent and maintained sectors, I really welcome having a channel through which to share and discuss my views on education. And I have many! I hope you’ll enjoy reading about them on my blog and will take the opportunity to engage with me via my Twitter account @PWSanderson.

Recently I have been considering the importance of teaching entrepreneurship skills in schools. This was prompted by my participation in a round-table discussion on the subject at the House of Commons last month. It was a lively debate with some firmly held views on how best to tackle the issue.

During the House of Commons debate I argued that we need a broader definition of success at school, rather than simply measuring someone’s worth by academic grade alone, to give pupils space to develop character and the key attributes they need to be successful in the future. At Bloxham we believe that highly-prized skills such as tenacity, resilience, determination, risk-taking and self-belief are as successfully taught on the playing field or Duke of Edinburgh expedition as they are through a textbook.

To only measure someone’s intellectual development, through exams and league tables, is too narrow. It strikes me that in business, and in life in general, we need students who emerge from school ready to face a changing world, possessing intellectual aptitude, as well as emotional, social and spiritual intelligence. How can we create entrepreneurs in society if we don’t help our young people develop confidence in their abilities to take risks? And how can they learn to take risks if they are only ever educated to pass exams?

At Bloxham we encourage our students to be bold and creative, providing a supportive and nurturing environment in which to learn. We use programmes like Young Enterprise to help give these skills a business dimension. Our current student enterprise team, ‘Re-Hide,’ has proven incredibly successful and is quickly selling-out of its stylish, reclaimed leather-wear. Spotting a gap in the market, the 16-strong Re-Hide enterprise has developed a solid business which is turning a healthy profit. Not to mention attracting the attention of teen idol Jamie Laing of Made in Chelsea fame..!

We have decided to prioritise careers and ‘future focus’ learning. As well as one-to-one coaching and support from a specialist teacher, we offer a first-class speaker programme which attracts top names from the world of business. Next month, we are looking forward to welcoming Sir John Madejski, founder of Auto Trader magazine and Chairman of Reading FC, to address pupils at a ‘Meet the Entrepreneurs’ event.

In his recent report ‘Enterprise for All’, Lord Young of Graffham, the Government’s Business and Enterprise Advisor, recommended the creation of a national network of business advisors to schools and ‘embedding a flavour of enterprise’ into the curriculum. Certainly, at Bloxham, we value the positive relationship we have developed with our local businesses and our Business Studies pupils recently enjoyed a presentation from the Chair of the Banbury Chamber of Commerce, himself a successful entrepreneur in his twenties.

As schools, we cannot know or dictate the path which our young people will take once they leave us. But we can help to prepare them for life beyond the school gates, with the confidence, core skills and finest academic qualifications they need to help them succeed along whatever route they take.