Developing ambitious, creative citizens of the future through entrepreneurial real-life education

Image: Craigfelen Primary School

By putting students in charge of their own small businesses, Craigfelen Primary School transforms them into confident entrepreneurs. The head teacher, Alison Williams, tells us how she got these initiatives rolling.

As head teacher, my philosophy for Craigfelen Primary School, particularly because of its context, was to ensure that it sits at the heart of its community, where every child can shine, where families not only feel welcome but have opportunities to improve their life experiences. To achieve this, I would need to develop a culture of collaboration, enquiry, exploration and innovation. Opportunities for pupil voice and entrepreneurial skills would be placed at the heart of our curriculum and pedagogical approaches. Expectations would be raised and, as a result, standards would improve.

The development of entrepreneurial skills has been part of the school’s curriculum development for the last six years, but due to the success of initiatives such as the Graigos Café (our pupil-led community café) and the Money Spiders Bank (linked to a credit union), as well as the publication of the Successful Futures document, this area has become a key aspect of our educational offer.

Craigfelen Primary School

Image: Craigfelen Primary School

We encourage staff to bring forward ideas and suggestions and provide them with high-quality training. The school’s long-standing links with the Welsh government and University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have provided opportunities for enquiry, innovation and exploration. For example, staff developed a pop-up shop where every child had the chance to develop an entrepreneurial project linked to their learning. This video captures the thoughts of the school community:

Recently, our school led the project ‘Moving Towards Successful Futures’, which involved 30 primary schools across Swansea developing skills for building creativity into their curriculum. This project was kindly supported by Sue Poole from C4EE and Professor Penaluna from UWTSD. Workshops by Professor Penaluna provided excellent opportunities for teachers to experiment and innovate their practice. He ensured that teachers were fully equipped with the skills and strategies required to deliver the project to their pupils.

He said, “When you first talk to teachers about being enterprising, they naturally think about fundraising and money, so using the European Competence Framework that UWTSD’s International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship Development helped to develop, we chatted through all the different abilities that help young people to be enterprising. It is often overlooked that you must be imaginative, resourceful and adaptable, for example, so creativity is at the core of teaching and learning. Teachers really welcome this, and it all aligns with the new ‘Successful Futures’ curriculum that is coming to Wales very soon. As their course leader, I just loved working with these imaginative and energetic teachers, whose main aim is to help their young people to get ahead. Isn’t that what education is all about?”

The schools in question then planned and created their projects. A market was organised in Swansea City Centre in June, where they set up stalls and sold their products. The day was a huge success, and the event created a great buzz in the city centre and the schools involved. A key aspect of the development of skills is for pupils to evaluate the outcome, with each school discussing their project and presenting their findings to a group of judges.

School market in Swansea City Centre

Image: Craigfelen Primary School

The project, which began three years ago with eight primary schools, has grown to include 30 schools, granting over 1000 pupils the opportunity to develop new skills, as well as an understanding of how their communication, numeracy and technological skills can be used in real life. Evidence from both summative and formative assessment shows that most children make good or very good progress in maths, literacy, ICT and many other areas of learning which directly link to this approach. The results we are seeing are remarkable and demonstrate the powerful impact enterprise can have on pupils of all ages.

Craigfelen Primary School is in the village of Craigfelen in the Swansea local authority. The school has grown steadily over time and there are now 180 pupils between the ages of 3 and 11 on roll. Alison Williams took up post as head teacher in September 2011.