To create the next generation of enterprising women.
The world needs women who know how to get things done while navigating the dramatic societal and economic changes before us. This world of artificial intelligence, globalisation and flexible work requires that women have the skills, capabilities and mindset to see possibilities, seize opportunities and to make a difference, so that they can create value for themselves and for others; a world where women have a strong voice and can take their place alongside men to collaborate for a better world.
Since Education is the basis on which we can change the world, the second purpose of the Enterprise Academy is to provide a prototype of how Schools should be – environments that harness both formal and informal opportunities for learning and which bring the academic and business worlds together so that students can learn how to navigate their future and flourish in it.
Schools cannot afford to be places where well-intentioned adults work from an old paradigm that prepared students to participate in a society that relied on ‘the system’ and for stability. Every system, industry, and job is changing. The economy is rapidly changing with disruptive technologies and intersections of previously disparate disciplines. The flow of information is moving too fast for school curricula to keep up with a static formal syllabus. The new world (and the new school) is one of a sound foundational knowledge base, practical informal learning, collaboration, adaptability and entrepreneurial effectiveness. For too long in Australia, Schools have prepared students for a world where the path to success was linear and local. This is no longer the case and schools need to adapt. They need to help students equip themselves with the skills to reinvent themselves as their world continues to change. The Enterprise Academy experiments with different ways of achieving that outcome within a school setting, and will one day influence the notion of what schools can do to better prepare students for life.
What is the Enterprise Academy
Enterprise has been a priority at the school for the last 10 years, so we have quietly been working on a number of avenues to develop an enterprise mindset and a degree of resourcefulness in girls in the classroom and beyond. In 2016 we opened the bricks and mortar element of the Academy providing the girls with a ‘home’ to workshop and brainstorm their ideas and innovations.
In every discipline, we are working with teachers to articulate how they develop enterprise skills in students as a natural part of what they do in the classroom. This can include content such as financial literacy, skills in digital technologies and understanding of business language, to working effectively in teams and learning how to collaborate, provide feedback and use a design thinking process to solve some real life problems presented in class.
Outside the classroom, we also provide ways of making learning fun through various competitions, such as our Enterprise Cup, where students compete to complete various challenges and ‘pitch’ their idea to the rest of the school; last year’s competition involved engineering, technology and pitching challenges.
We have provided Enterprise awards to students and to staff to encourage them to ‘take a risk’ and pursue an area of interest that can add value to education or to society.
Beyond the school, we have modelled the skill of collaboration by working with industry professionals to provide students with workshops in various enterprise initiatives, and to give them real world experience in how those professionals work; one example of this is for our School Production where students are mentored by professionals in aspects such as set design, lighting, hair & makeup, and sound, as they work together to stage the show. In the Performing Arts, professionals are often self-employed, so this is great for our students to understand as they pursue their passions and interests.
Once you give students ‘permission’ to be enterprising, it is interesting to see what ripple effect it can have.
We have many students, even as early as Year 2, thoroughly enjoying being involved in various enterprise activities at school. We are seeing many budding young entrepreneurs learning how to launch new projects and, importantly how to collaborate with others. Important progress markers are around what students choose to put their time and effort into outside their ‘formal’ lessons.
Our Enterprise Academy activities have ‘surfaced’ students who are already selling products that they make in online stores such as ‘Etsy’, or selling their T shirt fashion line in community markets and as fundraising for their own social impact projects; some have run online blogs which have attracted the interest of advertisers, and one has launched an EP on the iTunes store and selling copies around the world. In these small ways, students are learning that through encouragement at school, and through their own personal choice, they can develop different ways of having a revenue stream, and this type of practical learning is critical for their future.