Saturday, 27 October 2012

Entrepreneurship in curriculum based education through regional networks 17th October

Background on the Finnish education system.


There is one year of voluntary pre-primary education followed by nine years basic education. Following this upper secondary education, comprising vocational and general education; and higher education, provided by universities and polytechnics. Adult education is available at all levels.


The welfare if Finnish society is built on education, culture and knowledge. All children are guaranteed opportunities for study and self development according to their abilities, irrespective of their place of residence, language or financial status. All education is free.


Keuda Vocational college


Keuda is a consortium owned by 7 municipalities. The population of the area is 200,000. There are 7000 students, 600 staff and a turnover of 56m Euro in 2012.


The colleges are given a bonus depending upon exam results. This bonus is passed on to staff as well as kept for the college itself.


The College also delivers entrepreneurship training to primary teachers, upper secondary and polytechnic to help them to train their students.

It takes about 3 years to complete a vocational course. There is a minimum 5 credits of entrepreneurship in every vocational qualification. A credit equals 40 hours so 5 credits =200 hours!

There is a model of five things to be taken into account with entrepreneurship education.

1) Social skills
2) Teamwork skills
3 )Have to take responsibility for setting your own targets
4 )Taking own power (teachers have to give it)
5 )Students need to take the responsibility

All students take part in 24 hour camps
Credits awarded for attending and for different roles e.g. manager role is associated with more credit. Here entrepreneurship is part of the curriculum.

A year as an entrepreneur course is optional for students and is equal to 10 credits. Here students have to run a business and do book keeping, taxes, accounts, insurance etc. A practical experience.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Entrepreneurship in curriculum-based education through regional networks 16th October

Today was the first day of the study visit: entrepreneurship education at primary, secondary and senior secondary school.
We were picked up at 8.30 from the hotel. There are 10 of us taking part from all over Europe. What a friendly and interesting bunch.

Bus trip to the primary school
To accompany us to the secondary school was a teacher and three 9th graders (aged 15). I learnt that some of the most popular hobbies for teenagers here include horse riding, kickboxing and LOTs of ice hockey. Saara (aged 15), I hope that is the correct spelling, was recording the events of the day and will be making a short film about the trip.
It was explained that the Finnish education system is very good. An explanation might be that the language is easy to read and write and that teachers are well educated (5 years at university to qualify). In return teachers are rewarded with a good salary and a 10 week summer holiday.

Primary School
Lukko school is in Lukko in a small village in Mantsala. At this school there are 31 pupils of grades 1-6 (aged 7-12) in two mixed classes. The students don't wear any kind of uniform. There is a very relaxed atmosphere and shoes are removed by all students and staff and all walk around in only socks. The school had a feeling of being a home from home. Older children look out for younger children. All lunches are cooked on site and free to all students. Free preschool is provided for a year at aged 6.

A parent of one of the children, a local business owner, he runs a farm, was teaching the children about his farm on the day of our visit. collaboration with parents, local entrepreneurs and the school seems innovative.

Riihenmaki Secondary School
Still no one wears shoes! Apparently known as a 'sock school'?!
This is a junior high school for 7th to 9th graders who are aged 13-15. The school is in Mantsala, in Southern Finland, about 60km north of Helsinki and build in 1998. About 350 students attend the school. Class sizes average 19. In addition to normal class rooms the school has a library, drama theatre, excellent home economics facilities (compulsory curriculum), as well as a computer dance game, a couple of table tennis tables and freely available cycle helmets to encourage students to use them.
This school offers entrepreneurship classes. Students have to apply and pass an entrance exam for this course. If accepted they will study for up to 5 hours a week for the school year.
Students are encouraged to learn by doing and experimenting and told that making mistakes is okay. Aims of the course include: attitude; commitment; co-operation, initiative, teamwork. Targets of the course from the point of view of entrepreneurship include: intrapreneurship (characterised by courage and employability); external entrepreneurship (laws, business planning, accounting etc); establishing and running a company; co-operative companies (realistic picture of entrepreneurship).
The course is linked to traditional subjects in these ways: Languages (in Finland business English and Swedish are compulsory, in addition students complete 'language dips' (e.g. basic Estonian, Italian, French, Russian, German, Spanish); Mother tongue (writing documents, job applications, job interviews, correspondence and expressing oneself - drama); Health education (you have to be healthy to work); Maths (percentages, stats); History and social science (history of Finnish industry, projects team work); Home economics (household economics, running a school cafe); Geography (economic geography, natural resources in different countries); Religion (the dialogue of religions, philosophy, "know yourself and listen to others")
Examples of projects from entrepreneurship class include: planning a golf tournament for young people, a tee-shirt enterprise, in chair exercise classes for older people, local cultural walks, when older people are vaccinated for flu the students set up a cafe in the local health centre, advertisement competition (students make adverts for local businesses and display them around the town, the town then vote for the best advert).
one other point of note. Students vacuum after break times as part of a rota as they are expected to clean up after themselves.

Senior Secondary School
Mantsala senior secondary school is only 5 years old and very modern. About 300 students attend the school although it is not at full capacity (350 students). In Finland there is a secondary system and a vocational system. The school is part of the secondary system. I observed that the students seem calm. The cafeteria wasn't at all a shouty environment (lunch is provided free to all students). After lunch all students cleaned up their trays without any fuss. All students coats, shoes and other belongings are left on freely hanging around the building. There is a lot of trust - presumably things don't go missing - this is refreshing!
There are a number of activities to encourage entrepreneurship:
a) practical training - one a year students organise a day shadowing a person whose job they think they might be interested in or they can work in an environment to give it a 'test drive'
b) 'a day for future plans' - businesses come into the school to present to help students make decisions on their future
c) occupational afternoon
d) study visits
e) visitors
f) practical training for teachers - (vallu project). This was funded by the government to enable 'teachers to go out to the real world of work' to help them advise students better. This is to rebalance the fact that vocational teachers often 'work' too.
g) cultural trip where students have to raise the money themselves and raise opportunities to raise the money to attend
h) La Geode - when studying natural science students visited companies within the sector to bring the subject to life
In addition each student has to be entrepreneurial due to the fact that each student has an individual study plan which includes a minimum of 75 courses. For most universities there is also an entrance exam. The school have offered an entrepreneurship course for the last couple of years but this hasn't been taken up by enough students to run it. This is explained as it is an extra course and not compulsory. Perhaps it should be part of the formal curriculum?

A few other points of note
Entrepreneurship: in the beginning you have friends, fools and family
Don't take a job, make a job.
Concept of laicite.

Evening programme
Dinner was provided in a fantastic venue by a lake and included an authentic Finnish sauna. What was most special about this venue is that is staffed by college students...more about this tomorrow...

Entrepreneurship in curriculum-based education through regional networks 15th October

On 15th October I travelled from Poole, England to Kerava, Finland to take part in a study visit to look at entrepreneurship in curriculum-based education through regional networks.

I have decided to blog about this to help disseminate what I have learnt. in addition this record will be helpful when I get to the end of the week to help me write a report!

I have a few observations from Monday:

Public transport

Public transport in Finland is reasonably priced. I particularly enjoyed the free WiFi on a train from Helsinki to Tikkurila. When I bought a ticket for this train journey the ticket included information on the next train, which platform it was leaving from, what time it was leaving and when I would arrive. All of this translated into a very pleasant journey.

Art on disused building

In the Finnair magazine I noticed an article on massive murals on uninhabited buildings. Here is a link to a few examples http://www.stick2target.com/crono this captured my interest. Perhaps an opportunity for colleges, councils and businesses to work together...

APPG Local Growth: what are your 'quick wins' for local growth?

What are your ideas for local growth ‘quick wins’ for Government?

The idea(s):

  • should be able to be carried out in a short time
  • with little expenditure
  • but which would greatly help businesses, LEPs, local authorities and partners to initiate projects or overcome obstacles to progress. 
Examples may include bureaucratic, regulatory, institutional and political barriers that need to be tackled in order for LEPs and others to make progress in their areas.

What are your ideas? The APPG Local Growth secretariat plan to release a short paper before the Autumn Statement and would like to hear your views.

When considering barriers to local growth there are four key questions to address:

  • What are you trying to achieve in your area to drive growth? This could be a specific project or a more general attempt to influence how things are being done.
  • What’s stopping you? This could be a regulation, a Government agency that you don’t feel is aligned with economic growth objectives, a need for better coordination or joining up of different funding streams, etc.
  • What could Government do, quickly and at minimal or no cost, to address the barrier?
  • What facts and evidence can you draw on to back up your idea?

If you would like to contribute contact Majeed Neky, APPG Local Growth Secretariat (mneky@westminister.gov.uk) with concise submissions by Friday 26th October.  There are no formal requirements on the format for submissions.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Top 10 most burdensome acts for SMEs – EC seeks your views

Complaints are often made about the amount of red tape created by European law. The

EC wants to cut red tape and believes it can. However, there is a definite lack of

concrete proposals to reduce this burden. With this in mind, the EC is calling upon

businesses across the EU: "Let us know what could be done better - we would like your

ideas for reducing red tape!" Business intermediaries, LEPs etc now’s your chance - the

consultation runs until 21 December   http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/public-consultation-new/index_en.htm