Entrepreneurship education is a team effort. Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) places volunteers from the working world into schools nationwide through its activities with industry and education partners. But it is the latter, the educators, who determine whether entrepreneurial education has a place on their school’s curriculum.
That is why The Entrepreneurial School Awards (TESA) and Summit have been launched. The events are a public celebration of schools which foster an ethos of entrepreneurial skills development.
“Teachers are devoted to their mission to help prepare students for adulthood so it’s important that we continue to highlight the complementary influence of role models and connections to the world of work in the acquisition and practice of entrepreneurial skills,” said JAI chief executive Dr Helen Raftery. “With Junior Achievement (JA) programmes, students are introduced to the world of work and the idea of being enterprising individuals who have the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to prepare them to achieve the goals they set themselves to live a fulfilled life.
“Increasing access is key – less than 6 per cent of students in Ireland access entrepreneurship education, yet the returns on investment are significant and well-established. Building TESA will recognise the work of those schools and their communities in promoting best practice in entrepreneurship education and will, over time, ensure more students are provided with access to these valuable learning opportunities.”
Entrepreneurship education provides young people with the skills to think positively and use their talents to build a better society. JA programmes are comprised of defined learning outcomes, including the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills, with the most important input being the involvement of business volunteers who bring the ‘real’ world to life for the students.
At the launch of TESA, Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh said: “I am delighted to launch The Entrepreneurial School Awards with JAI. The awards are a great opportunity to shine a light on the innovative work done by schools in preparing our young people to achieve success in their lives and in the workplace of the future.”
JAI is already working with 541 primary and second-level schools across Ireland. This scale of collaboration shows the importance of entrepreneurial education in student learning. These schools can submit their application for TESA certification and to attend the inaugural summit on entrepreneurship education in October. At that special event, each TESA-certified school will receive its public citation, while a prize fund valued at over €10,000 will be awarded to the ‘best in class’ sectoral winners.
As part of a global organisation, JAI is also offering the TESA School of the Year winner the opportunity to represent Ireland and work with other educators from all across Europe at the Entrepreneurial Schools Conference, one of the largest entrepreneurship education initiatives in Europe. That event is co-funded by the European Commission and this year’s awards take place in Helsinki.
“Entrepreneurship education is an essential element of holistic education, and its importance will only grow in the future,” said Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals. “We are delighted that JAI is recognising the work of teachers, principals and deputy principals who often undertake this work on a voluntary basis.”
Participating JA partner schools can enter if JA programmes are included in co-curricular activities, entrepreneurship education activities involve most teachers and students, and the school has a vision and a plan for entrepreneurship education. All applications must be submitted by May, and schools will be notified of the outcome in September, ahead of the annual summit.
“The annual TESA summit offers a unique opportunity for entrepreneurial educators to come together, to share best practice and to build a support network of like-minded educators and schools,” said Irish Primary Principals Network president David Ruddy. “We look forward to contributing to this unique collaboration to support and complement the work of educators all over the country.”