Teaching entrepreneurship has huge value, whether or not a young person decides to carve a career in business. We find out how schools develop that can-do attitude – alongside social responsibility – both in and out of the classroom

Cranleigh School

At Cranleigh School in Surrey, entrepreneurship is introduced in imaginative ways. Year 9, pupils consider financial planning, profit/loss and marketing via the Egg Drop Challenge. This involves teams thinking out of the box to get the best result. In addition to formal classroom sessions, all pupils attend regular talks by established business owners and entrepreneurs. This is broadened to consider a broader set of topics key to developing responsibility.

Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs have a very different landscape to work in, and Cranleigh’s overarching vision is underpinned by three pillars focusing on thinking, being and giving – these encourage students to think beyond the test, consider who they are and understand the importance of giving back. Each of Cranleigh’s eight boarding houses run a charity event to make as much money as they can. In addition, as a response to the war in Ukraine, the School’s Charity Committee organised donations from the whole community, resulting in a very large lorry transporting thousands of items. This initiative was entirely pupil driven.

Teaching entrepreneurship – four schools talk business
Cranleigh pupils explore entrepreneurship and the business landscape in imaginative ways

Pupils interested in entrepreneurship gravitate towards Business Studies, and many also take Economics. Pupils in the Lower Sixth are also encouraged to take part in Ivy House, a development programme to encourage individuality and leaderships skills, looking directly at any individual challenges a student faces. There is also a practical approach to developing financial acumen. Amanda Reader, Joint Head of PSHE says “In the Sixth Form, PSHE sessions take a more grown-up approach looking at finances, credit cards, mortgages, payslips, student finance and budgeting.”  These are essentials for both business and onward life. 

“Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs have a very different landscape to work in, and Cranleigh’s overarching vision is underpinned by thinking, being and giving”

Cranleigh is a leader in developing the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) – Director of Learning, Teaching & Innovation Dr John Taylor was among pioneers of the qualification and is a Chief Examiner. The EPQ allows pupils to develop an idea with the support of mentoring Tutors and regular meetings to iron out roadblocks. The project culminates in a 10-minute presentation. This qualification not only helps to develop individual interests, but also problem solving, research and critical thinking.

Responsibility is vital to developing future business brains and Upper Sixth Form students are all given responsibilities in-house, or on sports teams as captains and vice-captains. With several student led committees including Cranleigh Being, Alliance, Charity Committee and Eco Committee, there are plenty of areas for pupils to take on roles where they give back and develop skills useful to an entrepreneur.

Cranleigh School cranleigh.org

Queen Anne's School
At QAS, girls undertake various enterprise projects and challenges – and with notable successes in competitions

Queen Anne’s School

At Queen Anne’s School (QAS), Caversham, girls are introduced to entrepreneurship in a variety of ways. Outside the classroom, Tycoon enterprise competition is run with U4 girls for two terms. The best groups get invited to Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace for the awards ceremony and QAS girls have attended as finalists a number of times, winning a £3,000 category prize in 2018-19. There’s also a popular Tenner Challenge in sixth form, run for L6 girls.

Personal financial acumen is developed as students progress. A personal finance workshop with U4 (Year 9) students is delivered as part of World of Work day. A number of external speakers visit the school to talk to the Sixth Form about tax, mortgages and other financial matters essential to their onward lives. QAS staff also provide sessions on how student finance work – alumni and local graduates come to give ‘on the level’ advice. Within Economics lessons, the school teaches some areas of personal finance through class discussions – also covering big-picture topics such as Consumption. Students appreciate the taster lessons in Economics and Business run for students ahead of their introduction as full subject choices at A level.

In Business studies lessons, Finance from the business perspective is covered as a whole topic, while entrepreneurship comes into topics such as Nature of Business and Leadership. Social enterprise and corporate social responsibility are major topics, revisited continually throughout the course and linked to current affairs. Queen Anne’s School is a four-times accredited Microsoft Showcase school, so students are also kept abreast of smart and efficient working, staying safe online and avoiding online scams.

“At the Micro Tyco Innovate Competition, QAS girls won the English round last year and came second globally”

Entrepreneurship is developed in a specifically designed leadership course for all QAS Senior Prefects (offered to all students in the Lower Sixth as well). This innovative course uses industry standard leadership courses and tailors them to what the students need to know at the start of their careers, especially with regards to emotional intelligence, situational leadership, managing effective meetings and time management. 

The school says that all girls enjoy the challenge of its enterprise competitions. There’s a rich vein of entrepreneurship and social responsibility here, with students taking part in the Micro Tyco Innovate Competition every year. QAS girls won the English round last year and came second globally. In this competition, students learn about the UN’s Global Sustainability Goals and then have to design, pitch and implement their ideas. Last year’s team focused on food waste and worked with the school catering team to implement their ideas to reduce waste in the Sixth Form Cafe. QAS is also a ‘Using Less Stuff’ school, which means that every student (and staff member) makes a pledge each term to use less of something. Tutors track how the students are doing with their pledge. 

Queen Anne’s School qas.org.uk

Teaching entrepreneurship – four schools talk business
Emanuel School pupils start with personal finance before moving on to the complexities of modern entrepreneurial thinking

Emanuel School

At Emanuel School in Battersea, twin themes of entrepreneurship and responsibility are introduced early on, so that children can develop their understanding. Year 8 pupils are introduced to areas of business and finance by learning about their own personal finance first. This includes topics such as budgeting, savings and responsible financial decision making. In the spring term, pupils’ learning progresses and they have one lesson a week to understand the approach taken by groups to develop non-profit solutions to a social or environmental issue.

The delivery is designed to inspire and maintain interest so, at the start of the course, pupils take part in a ‘hackathon’. This acts as an introduction to an entrepreneurial way of thinking. It is a design sprint event to brainstorm ideas in a large group and find solutions to challenging issues. The team at Emanuel say that this is a really fun and exciting way to spike young people’s interest in creative problem solving – an essential skill for any successful entrepreneur. There are then lessons that focus on the qualities of leadership and teamwork. Children work together to think of ideas for a product or service that has the potential to alleviate issues relating to the environment.

“Emanuel’s ‘hackathon’ acts as an introduction to an entrepreneurial way of thinking and is a design sprint event to brainstorm ideas”

Pupils learn from a selection of guest speakers who have worked with successful social enterprises, and they get the opportunity to hear first-hand the difference that social entrepreneurship can make.  In collaborations with a variety of departments, pupils then develop a business plan and marketing campaign for a business idea to solve a social or environmental issue. It involves market research to develop a branding, pricing, and funding structure. The children also learn about the theory behind business objectives and mission statements, as well as understanding basic financial principles and break-even theory. Throughout the process, they are encouraged to focus business objectives on ethical and sustainable practices. In the Summer Term pupils find out about marketing and work together with the school’s drama and film departments to develop a video to support their campaign.

While entrepreneurship takes place as part of timetabled activities, children are also encouraged to develop ideas for themselves. Over the Easter break, they undertake fundraising activities to support a charity focused around their chosen issue. Pupils can fundraise by completing an activity or volunteering a service. For example, they might ask people to sponsor them for reading several books or running a specified distance. The school encourages children to be as creative as they wish. The year culminates in an exciting showcase event; parents are invited to see our pupils present their projects and ‘pitch’ their final business plan.

Emanuel School emanuel.org.uk

Teaching entrepreneurship – four schools talk business
Business Studies, alongside Medicine, is now the most popular degree choice among Hurst leavers

Hurst College

Hurst College has dramatically increased its provision around entrepreneurship and business in the past decade – Brian Schofield, Head of Upper Sixth, Hurst College says it is responding to shifting aspirations its students. “With students more concerned about degree (or apprenticeship) options that genuinely add value, rather than simply serving as rites of passage, the popularity of business and entrepreneurship courses has accelerated.” Business Studies is now, alongside Medicine, the most popular degree choice amongst Hurst leavers. What is most notable, says Brian Schofield, is the rapid increase in the number of girls plotting a future focused on launching and running businesses. 

Hurst now produces an annual student and parent guide, Hurst Means Business, that reviews which business and entrepreneurship degrees the college’s expert team consider most valuable. In addition, to help prepare students for such a career, entrepreneurship is interwoven into school life at all stages. For instance, students in Year 9 receive training in the fundamentals of the financial system – this from the perspective of both personal money management and the global markets. In Year 10, all students must undertake the school’s Enterprise Challenge to develop a sustainable, successful mini business.

“With students at Hurst more concerned about options that genuinely add value, the popularity of business and entrepreneurship courses has accelerated”

The Young Enterprise programme is now so popular her that Hurst runs two Year 12 teams. “The consistently dominate the county awards, thanks to the hard work of the students and their sustainable, ethos-driven approach,” says Brian Schofield. Also in Year 12, as part of Hurst’s ‘University of Life’ programme, students receive training in financial resilience and self-reliance. Finally, in Year 13, as part of the Futurology lectures all students attend, guest speakers provide insight into the changing face of business as dynamic forces such as artificial intelligence and ‘Big Data’ evolve. 

Entrepreneurial spirit is highly visible within the sphere of charitable fundraising. Here, students are encouraged to launch as many social enterprises as they can think of, to hit Hurst’s typical student-driven fundraising total of £30,000 a year. From personalised Valentine’s cake delivery businesses to mini yoga-schools, an array of projects are launched and executed. Hurst has been placed in the top three UK fundraising schools for Movember in the past two years, raising £18,000 in the 2020-21 academic year alone – boys and girls participate, whatever the focus. Schofield says that perhaps the most important lesson Hurst has taken on board in the past decade is that interest in entrepreneurship among young people – social, financial, technological, or otherwise – is not at all gendered. “No-one talks about becoming a ‘businessman’ here at Hurst.” 

Hurst College hppc.co.uk

Further reading: Queen Ethelburga’s on enterprise education