“Enterprise skills will be key to future employment as artificial intelligence replaces workers”
In his keynote speech to school leaders and governors from academy schools at the Aldridge Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Education Conference in London Sir Anthony Seldon challenged the education establishment:
“Our schools, our universities, our politicians and officials are preparing our students often brilliantly – for the 20th Century. We need to smell the silicon and hear the drumbeat of the future sounding ever louder in our ears.
We examine students in the very areas Artificial Intelligence will replace in the future. Everyone in education has the chance to affect the whole human being, not just impart knowledge to pass exams and move up the league tables.”
The Foundation staged the conference to inspire and further knowledge of the role enterprise and entrepreneurship plays in equipping young people with the skills to thrive in their education, careers and adult lives.
Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham and formerly head of Brighton College and then Wellington College, was joined on stage by Professor Gurpreet Jagpal, Director of the Aldridge Institute for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. The Institute has recently been established in a partnership between the University of the West of England and the Aldridge Foundation, whose chair, Sir Rod Aldridge OBE, opened the conference.
Sir Rod said: “The development of enterprising skills is as equally relevant to improving academic performance as it is to boosting entrepreneurship. It opens minds that are potentially closed to learning, and encourages students to believe that anything is possible.”
Academic excellence is the core responsibility for all schools. But of equal importance is to ensure that our students are fully equipped to have fulfilling lives once they leave us. For them to have the skills to be successful in the world of work. The attributes Aldridge schools teach not only support academic attainment but also develop our students as all round people.”
Anthony Seldon’s challenge ranged from how schools’ success is measured to the importance of creativity.
“We need more sensitive measures about the value added by schools. Added value for children and added-value for the communities they live in.”
His theme that “Entrepreneurship is all about creativity” was picked up by Prof. Jagpal. He told the audience:
“A learning revolution is needed. Ofsted have recognised that the nation’s economic prosperity is at risk because the majority of England’s schools fail to prioritise enterprise education.”
“In the Nesta Report on the Future of Skills creativity was consistently identified as the most significant predictor of the likelihood of growth for an occupation… Hiring a writer who is “detail-orientated” becomes less important when they have a spell-checker on their computer. It will be their creativity that sets them apart.”
The Aldridge Institute is already identifying best-practice in enterprise skills teaching. “Business and enterprise permeating the curriculum is one stand-out factor in success” Prof Gurpreet said. “Where this is done well enterprise skills, personal learning and thinking skills are part of all lesson plans and included in lesson observations. Enterprise skills are recorded by students and endorsed by teachers.”
Delegates at the conference also took part in workshops looking at best practice in embedding enterprise skills and entrepreneurship in teaching and learning; what enterprising and entrepreneurial school leadership looks like; and how to equip young people for success in the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The final speaker of the day, Liam Dargan, a former student at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy and graduate of Kingston University, who now combines a successful career in Service Design at The Future Cities Catapult in London, with continuing to support his home town through his Heart of Darwen initiative. Heart of Darwen uses entrepreneurial thinking, collaborating with the Council, market, local community groups and large businesses to build a sustainable vision for the community’s town centre.
“I remember when we were told that our school was going to specialise in entrepreneurship. Hardly any of us could even spell it, never mind understand what it meant. But by the time I left school not only was our education transformed, but our community was too. The six enterprise skills we were taught continue to sit in the back of my mind and have pushed me to create projects that aim to fix issues in society.
Without the Aldridge Foundation’s belief in Darwen, I probably wouldn’t have set up as a freelance graphic designer at the age of 16 and I probably would never have applied to go to university in London. I might have grown up without a belief that I was capable of making a genuine change. I might have resented my town like so many others. I might have never made Heart of Darwen, and therefore I might never have the career I now enjoy.”