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RIO makes an impact in Slovenia with their social enterprise model

By 24th September 2014 No Comments

RIO Schools Consultant Johnathan Clitheroe and Lead Developer of RIO’s Social Enterprise Qualification Paula Winzar have just delivered two days of intense training to a group of 30 Slovenian teachers. Funded by the Slovenian Department for Education and covered by their national press, it was designed to kick start a year-long high profile campaign in Slovenia to develop entrepreneurship in its young people.

Consultant Jonathan Clitheroe shares his thoughts. “I am left with a powerful impression of the Slovenian people. Slovenians are generous, strong, and very competent. What they are not known for is their risk taking, individual expression or sense of adventure. The economy in Slovenia requires new start-ups, new ideas, individuals willing to stand out and connect to their passions and create a tidal wave of new business.”

RIO was invited to share how our approach to learning through social enterprise can cultivate and develop the attitudes, qualities and skills required to make an impact on their economy.

The teachers came from the best technical colleges in the country with specialisms ranging from biochemical engineering, to horticulture and construction, and all were committed to change. They have always worked with their students to train them for and mold them to jobs, preparing cohorts of 60 students for vacancies of 2 or 3 positions; what they needed was to learn how to develop their students’ entrepreneurial spirit – the spirit that will turn a beautician into a creator of a new beauty service, or a global beauty brand.

Over two days we covered our approach to developing entrepreneurial talent in young people through supporting them to design and set up school-based social enterprises. Using the models, practices and examples from our work pioneered and developed in the Our Way programme at Plymstock School in Plymouth, we explored the unique characteristics that make social enterprise the perfect tool for developing entrepreneurial talent. We looked at the necessity to learn through doing. We examined how to tap into the young people’s passions, commitments and aptitudes to steer them to create products and services that tell a story and capture the imagination. We delved into how to support students to collaborate and operate in teams, giving them the confidence to take risks, be themselves and communicate their visions to the world. Paula provided a unique perspective on how to assess, accredit and develop social enterprise learning through her work to develop the Social Enterprise Qualification.

The teachers left with a new view of learning and a new commitment to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit in their young people. The teachers on the programme will each be paid 40 hours extra a month to use our methodology and approach to unlock the entrepreneurial spirit in two of their students. The Slovenians recognise the importance and are investing heavily. Some of the teachers share their thoughts from the training session below.

“This work has reminded us of the necessity to connect our students to their passions and ethics. As a country we have moved from socialism to capitalism but we have forgotten the importance of business with a social purpose.”

“Jonathan has reminded us how important it is to be driven by a purpose.”

“The ability to develop teamwork, aptitude, and courage is what I have taken from this training.”

Jonathan shares his reflections: “Our visit made me consider our approach to vocational learning in the UK. There is and has been an intense debate raging about the need to invest in, and raise the profile of vocational learning; UTC’s are opening up and there is a renewed focus on apprenticeships. For me, the argument of vocational verses academic misses the point – in both fields we don’t only require competent, skilled, knowledgeable young people; we need young people with the ability to initiate, innovate and connect to purpose. Whether teaching in a UTC, an Academy or a Local Authority controlled school, we need a workforce of teachers with the skills and remit to unlock these qualities in our young people.”

“The best way to develop young people with the ability to tackle the challenges of the next century and make lasting change for the better is to give each student the experience of designing and running a meaningful viable and dynamic social enterprise. Invest in learning through social enterprise!”

The Our Way social enterprise talent development programme, invested in by Plymouth City Council and Arts Council England, and supported and championed by Head Teacher David Farmer, is nationally recognised and has appeared in a parliamentary white paper on enterprise learning. The young entrepreneurs say:

“Our Way became a catalyst in helping me discover my potential and realise just what I was capable of achieving in such a short space of time.”

“Our Way hasn’t just taught me about business and social enterprise; it’s taught me something much more valuable, what life in a professional environment really looks like.”

“Our Way appeals to my interests, hobbies and aptitudes and keeps me engaged and focused like no other activity.”

“I used to look at young people doing business and enterprise on TV, think how amazing they were and how there is no way I could ever do something like that. Now I am one of those people doing business and enterprise thanks to the Real Ideas Organisation and Our Way.”

Take a look at a few of the achievements in the fun pictograph below!

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