Our Head of Social Entrepreneurship, Julie Redding, talks about Social Entrepreneurship at Sevenoaks, and why it is an important part of the curriculum.
What do you think makes a good entrepreneur?
I think that the key differential of a good entrepreneur is their attitude. Good entrepreneurs are not the people with all of the answers on how to do things, but they are tenacious individuals, committed to, and passionate about finding the way to make things work. They are resourceful and tend to use their skills to work together with other people and find solutions that enable them to drive their activities forwards. They are also risk-takers who overcome their fear of failure.
Why should schools be integrating entrepreneurship skills into their curriculum?
It is vital that schools prepare their students for the future work environment, which is changing at an ever-increasing rate, owing largely to the impact of technological changes such as automation and robotics. Educational institutions need to focus not on preparing our students for specific jobs, but rather on developing the skills that will be needed for success in this rapidly changing environment.
Entrepreneurial skills are not only useful for starting up a business. Universities and employers are looking for students who possess entrepreneurial skills such as creativity, proactivity, problem solving, digital proficiency and resourcefulness.
What kind of changes have you seen in the students at Sevenoaks as a result of the entrepreneurial activities they have been working on?
I have been supporting students with their student-led initiatives through our virtual Entrepreneurship Lab. I have seen students developing and leading various activities they are passionate about such as a Ted-X youth event and our first Business Plan competition. The experience was a huge learning curve for the students involved. It gave them experience in project and event management, and required them to use their problem-solving and communication skills, as well as being flexible, resourceful and resilient. As a result the students gained an understanding and experience of how to run a public-facing event, with all the logistical challenges involved. It was an experience I believe will be hugely beneficial for them in their future.
What plans do you have to increase the profile of entrepreneurship at Sevenoaks over the next few years?
We are looking to continue the focus on developing entrepreneurial skills amongst our students, hoping to make this an area that flows throughout the curriculum. We are looking to create more opportunities for contact with external organisations and expose students to more opportunities to learn about the work place and provide work-related training.
We will also continue to use our Service and Fundraising activities as a vehicle for developing entrepreneurial skills amongst our students as well as a means to put an increased focus on the importance of social impact and responsibility in business. We are also trialling an online business simulation that allows students to gain business experience, whilst taking risks in a safe environment.
Why is social entrepreneurship even more important than ever?
Social entrepreneurship is extremely important. We are educating the leaders of the future, and should ensure that they understand their responsibility to contribute positively to society, and the impact their decisions and choices will make. Our young people will control the businesses of the future and so it is vitally important that they behave ethically and responsibly. We want them to realise that business and social impact should go hand in hand, and not be seen separately, and incentivise them to look for sustainable creative solutions to today’s global issues.