London Park School Clapham Founding Head Paul Vanni on social entrepreneurship teaching at the new Senior, which will open its doors this September

Schools have for decades taught Business Studies and Economics. For longer still they have taught numeracy and financial literacy and have instilled in generations of students the kind of dynamism and chutzpah that traditionally have seemed essential to so many in the world of business, particularly the world of the entrepreneur.

Over the years, competitions such as Young Enterprise have done much to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in a way that has also encouraged creativity, teamwork and a hunger to be the top dog. Sir Alan Sugar and the glamour of The Apprentice have only served to make entrepreneurial pathways more attractive to young people. This approach to business, however, centres on the bottom line. In a modern, progressive school we should be able to harness this in a way which is more altruistic and lends itself to the wider aims of the school.

“We want London Park School Clapham to be a base camp for inquisitive minds and to empower leaders for a new world”

At London Park School Clapham, we want our students to be bold, to be brave; to have a real understanding of the world around them and of their place in it, and to have the wherewithal to be positive changemakers. We want the school to be a base camp for inquisitive minds and to empower leaders for a new world. As such, we have a focus on social entrepreneurship – we want our students to have the skills and real-world understanding to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural and environmental issues. These solutions eventually need to be self-propelling and sustainable, not reliant on the industry of one or two individuals.

Students at London Park School Clapham will work hard to develop an understanding of the challenges facing the world and – alongside our academically rigorous curriculum – we run our own courses structured around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 interlinked objectives serve as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity’.

London Park School on teaching social entrepreneurship
London Park School will equip students with financial and digital skills and encourage them to solve real-world problems

Once you have understood an issue and felt that sense of personal agency, the next challenge is to decide what to do to tackle it head on. This is really where social entrepreneurship comes in. Our students will be encouraged to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems and much of what we will do will be centred on encouraging critical thinking and the links between different disciplines of study. In Design Technology, for example, students will look at and hypothesise about practical and mobility issues faced by people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Building on this, and drawing on skills learnt in Mathematics, Computer Science and IT, they will design – and in some cases build – devices to the improve the quality of life of others. Having innovated, students will be given the guidance to take their ideas and make them accessible to others.

Students will learn financial literacy and digital marketing. They will also learn to work together to formulate plans and develop ideas, turning them into real business outcomes. Support will be given not just by teachers, but also by local professionals who share our sense of community and our desire to be ethical changemakers in an increasingly complex world. These mentors will work with us to deliver student-led ventures, providing invaluable experience of entrepreneurship and of how to run a start-up business. We will provide the space and the platform at London Park School Clapham. Our students will demonstrate their capacity for understanding and empathy, and their ability to make the world a better place.

London Park School Clapham

Further reading: Dulwich College on diversity progress