Can entrepreneurialism be taught in school? - Hurstpierpoint College

Can entrepreneurialism be taught in school?

Brian Schofield, Head of Upper Sixth at Hurst College, poses the question of whether entrepreneurialism can be taught in school

Perhaps the most inspiring and gratifying time of year to be a teacher is the season of reading personal statements. Those all-important letters of self-recommendation our Upper Sixth students write as they apply to university. At first, they tend to show a very British disinclination to blow their own trumpets. But once they have warmed up, it is simply remarkable how much they have achieved in their short lives, often with an absolute minimum of fuss.

Enterprising students

Reading these documents, you often discover that a young man you know as a moderately interested history student with a messy folder is a national wakeboarding champion. Or that a shy girl you taught in Year 8 has, by Year 13, turned into a militant feminist Insta-poet with more followers than Justin Bieber. Utterly disproving the stereotypes of young people today doing nothing but stare at their phones, these statements often leave me reflecting on how much of my own teenage years I indolently frittered away.

The statements I find most fascinating – and, in a way, intimidating – are from those students who, in their spare time, have opened a business. Some upcycle clothes, others organise birthday parties, and there is always one a year with an App for sale. Such enterprise would never have occurred to me – to be honest, that is still the case. I have come to accept that I am a natural salaryman, lacking so much as an entrepreneurial metatarsal. My parents were the same, and theirs before. It is intriguing to note that most statements which demonstrate the spirit of entrepreneurialism come from those whose parents are business owners. Is entrepreneurialism an inherited trait, then? Or can it be taught?

Entrepreneurialism encouraged

At Hurst we are certainly trying. We take our Young Enterprise team as seriously as any sports side, claiming many titles and awards in the past 12 years. Our award-winning Careers Department organises ‘skills for business’ training for all Sixth Formers. Much of the recent growth in Business A-level students has been down to our efforts in persuading more girls to consider the subject. And of all the guest speakers our Sixth Formers hear, it is hard to think of one who gets a better reception than Jimmy Cregan, the hipster millionaire who founded Jimmy’s Iced Coffee from a bedsit in Dorset.

But perhaps we could, and should, be doing more. Today’s young people are surely bored of being harangued with the fact that most of the jobs they will be doing in their adult lives have not yet been invented. Perhaps we should spend more time pointing out the upside. That they can, if they wish, invent those new jobs themselves.


Please follow the links below for further information about Hurst College, an independent, co-educational, day and flexi/weekly boarding school for pupils aged 4–18, located just to the north of the village of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.

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