Case studies

The above section presents seven case studies of schools that have taken differing approaches to enterprise education. These discuss the nature and benefits of an enterprise approach and the challenges and barriers faced by the staff and students at these schools. Following the case studies is a discussion of the themes found at these schools regarding the benefits and challenges of enterprise education.

Student-centred learning at a large high decile girls’ school – School A

School A began a cross-curricula enterprise project in 2008 involving the science and social studies departments. The principal decided to join the project because she wanted to develop the quality of pedagogy across the school. She selected two lead teachers who were innovative and enthusiastic to lead an enterprising cross-curricula project.

The project was funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and involved a Year 10 class during science and social studies. NZTE provided funding to help with resources, professional development and time for the lead teachers to visit business and community partners. The lead teachers decided on a water context and, following discussions with the students, this was narrowed down to a rain water project.

The central activity in this unit was working with the local council, a university and a business partner to establish emergency water tanks at the school. The teachers worked with students to identify the specific tasks to be carried out as part of the unit and they also identified the specific aspects of the curriculum that were met by these activities. A few of the students ERO talked to in 2011 remembered the important learning activities of this unit and were still applying the principles they had learned about sustainable water usage.

In 2009 this project expanded to all Year 10 classes and involved eight teachers, including the two who led the project the previous year. This project was not as successful as the year before. The teachers in this second phase of the project did not have the benefit of the professional development that came with the project in its first year. There was no additional funding so it was difficult for the school to pay for teachers and students to visit the school’s business and community partners. This contributed to the decision by staff to focus on raising money for the school to continue its work on rainwater capture as their enterprise dimension. The result was to move the enterprise component of learning away from the science and social studies objectives in the curriculum.

In 2010 the science and social studies departments stopped delivering a cross‑curricula water unit. The teachers in these departments have, however, become more student-led in their planning of science and social studies under The New Zealand Curriculum. For example the social studies department, with the support of a new department head, has taken a social inquiry approach to its junior curriculum. Using their experience from facilitating the enterprise units, teachers have moved away from pre-planned ‘units’ and started to use contextual frameworks to develop more student-led and inquiry-based learning.

Under this approach teachers have had more focus on social studies skills. Their planning has also drawn on the enterprising attributes and the key competencies. Students are encouraged to consider the social action possibilities in response to the issue they are investigating. Students have started doing more to following their own interests and take responsibility for their learning. This type of learning has required students to have additional computer and internet‑based resources and there have been difficulties ensuring that students have access to this equipment.

Similar changes have occured in the school’s junior science programme. One of the enterprise lead teachers became the assistant head of science and has influenced a more student-centred, process approach to science education. Under her leadership, the school has reduced the number of topics in the junior science programme and put more emphasis on the Nature of Science strand in The New Zealand Curriculum. This has resulted in more student-led investigations.

Across the school there are challenges in involving staff in other departments in making changes to their teaching and providing a more student-led and enterprising approach to learning. There are also resource issues to manage, if more and more students become involved in developing independent learning.

At the time of ERO’s visit, staff at the school were considering how the alignment of the achievement standards with The New Zealand Curriculum would affect the senior school curriculum. These standards place more focus on learning processes rather than content knowledge and it was anticipated that those staff who have had more of an enterprise teaching focus would be better prepared for their implementation.

Enterprise at a large mid-decile secondary school – School B

The principal of School B has been an enthusiastic supporter of several different enterprise projects in the school. To date, the principal and other school leaders have encouraged the development of a building academy and the community catering projects of the students in food technology. While these examples of authentic learning could serve as their own case studies, ERO specifically examined the work of this school’s business programme and its links to enterprise.

The business programme was established in 2002 and caters for domestic and international students. The main focus of the programme has been to develop skills in learning about enterprise (business) although there has always been an element of ‘learning through enterprise’ evident in the programme.

At Year 9 all of School B’s students take a business studies module. In Year 10 enterprise studies is based on materials from the Young Enterprise Trust. [5] The curriculum for Year 11 students includes a focus on running a market day. Students take responsibility for delivering a fundraising venture for this event, including food stalls, car washes and so on. The students are expected to use the principles of business and enterprise they have learnt as part of the business programme to prepare their market. The level of educational challenge in the market‑day activities is not high compared to some other enterprise activities observed by ERO in this evaluation. In part, this is linked to the school’s relatively recent approach to focus more on authentic or enterprising learning activities.

In the Year 12 and 13 courses students have more opportunities to take part in meaningful learning activities. For example, the Year 13 enterprise students take responsibility for the school’s annual celebratory dinners. With over 200 corporate guests, these events provide an opportunity for the students to manage a complex event that has high prestige for the school. The tasks students complete include managing the budget as well as organising the venue, entertainment, catering and menu.

Assessment in the senior subjects draws on a mix of unit standards and Cambridge examinations. The Cambridge examinations are being phased out as the new Business Studies achievement standards are introduced. The leader of the business programme told ERO that the new achievement standards would provide more scope to design a curriculum focused on the process of operating a business with less emphasis on the content recall.

A strength of the school’s business programme is its links with members of the wider community. The leader of the business school has built many different relationships with business leaders, entrepreneurs and past students who operate as enterprise experts, role models and mentors for students in the programme.

The challenges faced by the business programme include the design of the classrooms for the enterprise programme. While some of the rooms are large and well appointed with computer resources, others are small, not well suited to group work and without computer access. As the programme increases the use of authentic teaching and learning students will need to communicate with their mentors and community partners and the way resources are currently used may need to be modified.

Enterprise at a large high decile junior high school – School C

School C is a high decile, multi-cultural school established in 2009. High numbers of the students are from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB). The diverse cultural make‑up of the student body is also reflected in the staff.

The vision for the learning at the school is linked to innovation, problem‑solving and enterprise. The principal leads this vision. She was involved in an E4E cluster at her previous school and this has helped her to develop enterprise in the school. The school’s approach to the curriculum has influenced the way the school organises its classrooms, timetable, resources and curriculum. As a result, authentic learning is embedded in teaching and learning throughout the school.

The principal has carefully considered the design of the school and resources needed to achieve the school’s vision for teaching and learning. The design of the school means that sets of classrooms have been built around common resources and shared areas for learning. This encourages collaboration between students. For example, there are computers and other ICT in a shared learning areas so that students can easily contact community partners, work on projects with their teams and document their work digitally.

The school has a high number of computers in the school (one per two students) which are networked and linked to the internet. The school has saved a considerable amount of money by using open-source software rather than commercial packages. This combined saving has allowed the school to put more money into the overall ICT infrastructure including their computers, cameras, scanners, telephones and data displays.

Students are divided into four whānau groups which each form the basis for curriculum planning and organisation. Teachers work collaboratively in their whānau and there are shared computer resources, break-out rooms and kitchen facilities in each of the four whānau areas. Students are timetabled for subjects with specific teachers but they are not necessarily restricted to one conventional classroom space as they complete various types of learning activities.

ERO talked with students who had worked with community volunteers to develop access to a nature reserve; developed a course teaching computer skills to senior citizens; taught English to adult second language learners; tested water in the local stream for the council; fund-raised for various community projects; delivered (fitness‑based) dance lessons for adults; created artworks for a new local park; and worked with the local council to collect information and solve problems with community transport. As part of the project students have liaised directly with groups such as Rotary and local councils. They have conducted door-to-door surveys and run focus groups. They have also cooperated with students from overseas schools in preparing joint projects.

We don’t say no but rather how might we do this – we look for ways to do things rather than place barriers in students’ way. Principal School C

Teachers allow students to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them.

Students take full control of projects with support from teachers. Students plan, establish community contacts and carry out their projects with minimal intervention by teachers who act in a mentor role.

An important factor in the success of the approach has been the structure of the timetable. Not all of the enterprise projects have been able to be managed within the normal curriculum timetable and the school has set aside a 75 minute slot each day for students to work on projects linked to students’ strengths, interests and needs. This time is available to extend any projects that are developed in classroom studies and initiate new ones. It is also used to provide extension, remedial and interest‑based classes for students. The overall effect is that School C has been able to make highly individualised programmes for students that incorporate extensive opportunities for enterprise learning alongside skill-based work, sports activities, NCEA extension work and additional assistance for students needing support in numeracy and literacy.

All staff, including the principal, work with groups of a dozen or so students during the 75‑minute slot. Teachers tend to follow their own strengths and interests at this time and they report high levels of enjoyment with the way their teaching programmes are organised. In line with this all staff also work as mentors for small groups of students to help them to develop and achieve academic goals. The energy teachers put into student goal-setting filters into the 75‑minute timetable slot because where a student has identified a particular interest or enterprise learning opportunity, there is the potential to cater for this in the school’s flexible timetable.

In combination with the student-centred approach to learning, there is effective curriculum planning and assessment. School C’s principal said that “learning drives assessment rather than assessment driving learning”. This statement reflects the retrospective planning approach taken at the school. At different points during the year teachers reflect on the learning to date and use The New Zealand Curriculum to identify which aspects of the curriculum remain to be taught.

Student assessment results are monitored closely through an electronic system that describes the outcomes students have achieved across their learning activities. This information is set out in terms of specific outcomes for each student. The style of the outcomes is similar to the outcome statement students will see in the NCEA when they reach senior secondary school.

As the principal of a new school, the principal of School C was able to appoint staff who supported her vision for teaching and learning. She said that one of the key benefits of their approach was the enthusiasm of most teachers. This enthusiasm has also influenced positive relationships between staff and students. Despite this, not all teachers have been able to adopt an enterprise approach. A few staff have left and some are still attempting to build enterprise elements into their teaching.

Enterprise at a large high decile urban school – School D

The school has been part of the E4E cluster since 2007. The principal initiated this cluster and has led this work along with the E4E cluster coordinator, who was an existing member of School D’s staff. After the cluster contract was completed the cluster coordinator was re-employed by the school as a curriculum coordinator with additional responsibilities for enterprise learning. This wider curriculum leadership role strengthens his ability to promote an enterprising approach to teaching and learning.

The college identifies enterprise as real-life learning experiences that have a community involvement and an actual audience. They include a learning focus on developing the enterprising attributes emphasised in the E4E project along with the key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum.

As part of the school-wide focus on enterprise each staff member is expected to implement at least one enterprise activity each year with their class. This goal is documented and monitored as part of their appraisal. Sixty-six out of 80 teachers reached the goal in 2010 with most of the remaining staff having had at least provided supervision for enterprise activities through the year.

The enterprise coordinator has extensive curriculum knowledge and has been able to suggest specific examples to teachers who have been hesitant about using enterprise approaches. He has worked alongside teachers in a mentoring-type role to support those who have been less confident about implementing an enterprise approach. He has also facilitated contact with community partners and ensured that both the school and the community/business partner understand what the project involves.

The integration of enterprise learning is most evident in Years 11 to 13. In particular the technology department, where the design process aligns well with the school’s vision for enterprise. Students in technology classes have made garments for outside clients; prepared the catering for a large scale event; solved challenging engineering problems; and designed websites for external clients. In senior art classes students have completed a community mural. The business studies students have carried out a traffic survey and prepared recommendations for the council. History students have interviewed senior citizens for a history research project. In other senior classes students have prepared a marketing campaign for local apples, which involved developing an apple-based product and a marketing presentation to clients. In another project students have contributed field investigations, mapping, surveys, data analysis and presentations to a panel of experts to support the council’s 50 Year Vision for a beach inlet.

Most of the enterprise activities in the senior school have been assessed with NCEA standards. The key competencies and enterprising attributes have been more part of informal assessments, most commonly through the student self-evaluation.

At Years 9 and 10 some departments have undertaken one-off enterprise projects, in addition to, rather than as part of the curriculum. For example, mathematics and English students have designed and made learning resources for special needs students at the college. Such one-off projects have been facilitated by the school with the help of a one-week block in the timetable, set aside each term for integrated learning activities.

In addition to these one-week blocks, the school has a two-day activity for Year 10 students at the end of the year. This involves integrating different teaching areas. All staff are involved during this time although some staff participate in a supervisory, rather than teaching, capacity.

The principal, coordinator and teachers spoken to by ERO reported that students demonstrated heightened levels of motivation and engagement in the enterprise learning. Student surveys conducted by the school also indicated enthusiasm for the approach. Anecdotal evidence showed improved achievement in some areas but the main focus has been on development of key competencies. This occurred as students developed leadership skills, teamwork, communication with a range of audiences/clients, and built their understanding of both careers options and life in the workforce. Student gains in these areas have not been formally monitored or documented.

The leadership of the principal and curriculum coordinator have been important factors in building the school’s approach to enterprise. Board support has also been strong with the chair being a business partner and the curriculum coordinator a board member. Building enterprise expectations into staff appraisals has meant that most staff ensure that some part of their teaching reflects authentic learning activities. However it may not have converted them to such approaches. For example some staff had concerns at the additional workload of enterprise and they raised questions about the extent to which enterprise learning aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum.

Many of the enterprise activities were, however, teacher-led with teachers identifying the problems and making the initial links with business and community partners. Consequently some students have struggled to take ownership of some projects and have, for example, failed to attend meetings that have been set up with external clients despite the activity being assessed against NCEA standards. Better preparation of students for such meetings by teachers may have increased student confidence.

Enterprise at a small low decile area school – School E

School E has been part of an E4E cluster since 2007. This group was served by an effective external coordinator who supported schools in the cluster in making links with business and community groups and identifying opportunities for various enterprise learning activities. The cluster no longer operates and the coordinator has not been funded since the end of 2009. Since the school started developing enterprise learning two teachers who were part of that initial work have left.

In 2010 the school was part of an environmental education project, and while it was hoped that this would support the school’s enterprise learning, this did not happen. In 2011 the school was looking to rebuild its approach to enterprise in education.

The principal of School E sees enterprise as a way to develop effective teaching where students are involved in authentic learning contexts and they ‘have a say’ in their learning. This is embedded in the school’s curriculum statements and is reflected in the school’s unit planning template, which includes a section for planning an enterprise dimension. However the loss of the two staff leaders who had considerable professional development when the E4E cluster was operating, has reduced the number of staff who can mentor and support others delivering enterprise learning activities.

At Years 8, 9 and 10 students have ‘enterprise’ timetabled for three lessons a week. In Term 1 students are involved in team building-type activities and learning how to cooperate in line with the enterprising attributes and key competencies. Students have gone on to participate in the $2 challenge where they compete in groups to grow their $2 ‘seed’ money. They record their activities in an Achievers Book that includes a self assessment in terms of the enterprising attributes. In building their $2 seed money students take the initiative in working with community members to find entrepreneurial ways to increase their venture capital.

Later in the year students set up groups and develop a business proposal, which they present to the teacher for approval. Students have a good degree of ownership of projects and make contact with community partners themselves. Previously partnerships have been developed with the local museum, the fire brigade, and early childhood centre, La Leche League (catering for a conference) and the youth centre. As a result of these projects some students have participated in a national competition, the BP Community Enterprise Challenge.

Attempts have been made to integrate E4E into some NCEA technologies standards, and also in Year 12 statistics through a project in partnership with a local community board. Problems were encountered during moderation of the technology standard and this has now been modified to providing such activities for a vocational student group outside the NCEA framework.

Students have also assisted with the development of a community gymnasium at the school, painting the room and assembling the equipment. They have constructed a fence around a school property and designed and painted a mural. They are in the planning stages of a project to build an enclosed garden with Years 12 and 13 students as the clients. The hard‑materials teacher has used E4E activities with the ‘early finishers’ on projects such as reconditioning outdoor seats for the bowling club with students liaising with club members to find out what they needed.

The school has also attempted to carry out some integrated enterprise activities. Not all teachers have been enthusiastic about this. Workload was said to be an issue, with staff saying that new curriculum and assessment requirements have taken up staff time and energy. Staff leaders in enterprise have also been discouraged because of concerns in the community that enterprise learning does not reflect ‘real’ learning.

Enterprise at a mid-sized, mid-decile school in a provincial centre – School F

School F was also part of an E4E cluster from 2007 to 2009. The principal was initially cautious about joining the cluster but was convinced by the links between enterprise and authentic learning. In particular he saw the project as an opportunity to motivate students, especially those at risk of disengagement. Enterprise learning was subsequently included in the school’s strategic plan and many of the school’s teachers developed enterprise learning as part of their teaching programme.

That principal left in 2010. The new principal who started in 2011 has no experience of E4E or enterprise learning and does not see it as his first priority as he establishes himself in the school. There have also been staff changes with some of those who had developed enterprising learning being among the teachers who have left. A falling roll and the associated staff redundancies have also put pressure on staff. The decrease in staff has increased class sizes and reduced timetable flexibility. A new Years 9 and 10 timetable and options structure in 2011 have also preoccupied staff.

Despite these changes, the school is maintaining enterprise learning as part of the curriculum. The in-school coordinator has provided continuity during these changes. She supports teachers who choose to implement enterprise learning activities. She monitors projects against specific milestones, maintains impetus and vision, and facilitates opportunities for teachers to coach each other and network with the community. She also gives detailed annual reports about enterprise about enterprise learning and its outcomes to the board.

In 2009 and 2010 just under half of the teachers developed enterprise learning activities in 34 projects. Most of these projects operated in the junior school. For example Years 9 and 10 projects included making dress-ups and toys for a early childhood centres; producing signage for the public library; painting murals for the skateboard park and school; constructing farewell gifts for international students; story‑writing for a primary school; putting together a diabetes awareness presentation for primary schools; and organising an anti-bullying presentation to students in Year 7. All of these projects involved student negotiation and liaison with clients with many of the students showing high degrees of self-management in organising significant aspects of this work.

In 2011 students in Years 9 and 10 have been able to select an enterprise learning option class from the timetable. This is a four-hour-per-week option, including one double period, which provides some flexibility for activities that students undertake outside the school. Initially this class targeted students who were more likely to be at risk of being disengaged with school, but in 2011 a broad range of students now participates. Ideas for projects are generated by students and have included working with the SPCA, spending time with residents at the rest home and weeding and planting in a conservation area. Students’ contributions are evaluated by the teacher and there is also self assessment based on criteria from the key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum.

In another Years 9 and 10 option students have a focus on authentic learning in a Māori context. As well as a planting project for DoC, these students have developed their expertise in te ao Māori as part of a project supporting a local marae. With the help of kaumātua and local artists these students learnt aspects of weaving, carving, contemporary jewellery design, te reo Māori, hangi, kapa haka, local history and tikanga. They also assisted with stream cleaning, learned local traditions and cooked for marae elders. On their return to school they developed a programme to teach what they had learnt to the school’s international students. These students also tutored all Years 7 to 10 students in kapa haka for their participation in a Māori cultural festival.

In the senior school most teachers reported to ERO that they had difficulties in establishing a link between NCEA and enterprise activities. Staff perceived that the NCEA assessment requirements for their subject dictated the curriculum to be covered, and were reluctant to use enterprise contexts and approaches. English, mathematics and science teachers were the most reluctant about using authentic learning approaches. One successful enterprise learning project at Year 12 geography involved students mapping a creek for the Department of Conservation (DoC). This mapping exercise allowed students to complete the requirements for an achievement standard and provided information for a local fishery conservation project. Feedback from DoC was that this was a valued piece of work.

The teachers at School F report higher levels of engagement from students who participated in enterprise learning activities, including those who had previously been disengaged. The level of engagement by the school’s community and business partners has helped to enhance the relationship the school has with the town. Similarly it has enhanced the perception of teenagers by community members. The Māori students at the school have said that they are more comfortable with the school because of the way their culture is valued through the enterprise learning connected to te ao Māori.

Enterprise and food technology at a large, mid-decile school in a provincial town - School G

At the end of 2009 the food technology teacher at School G was invited to join an enterprise cluster focused on food technology. The teacher agreed to participate although the short notice made it challenging to set up a new course for her Year 13 class before the year started. The teacher had a food nutrition background and had to quickly develop an understanding of both food technology and enterprise. Moreover most of the students had enrolled for a conventional food and nutrition course and some found the requirements of the new course to be more challenging than they had expected.

The project drew on the technology curriculum and emphasised the enterprising attributes of the technology process. It provided professional development for teachers in both food technology and business skills. A business partner prepared a brief for Year 13 students regarding the type of product students were expected to design. The business partner also provided the students with feedback along the way. Students were assessed with a combination of achievement standards and assessment resources from the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES).

Support from the professional learning and development project was important in helping the teacher design and deliver the new course. A food technology consultant provided expertise in food technology processes and the scientific basis for product design. The consultant was quick to respond to email queries from the teacher and students about design issues. She was knowledgeable about the curriculum and advised the teacher on ways to teach key elements of the course.

The use of a business client made the design process an authentic learning experience for students. Students discussed the specific requirements of the client and tested their various product options. Students had to consider the challenges involved in scaling up the production of their samples and ensuring that there could be consistent quality standards for larger-scale production. As part of these processes students also considered the potential profitability of their products. They had to interview members of the public about the taste and appeal of their product and meet with people who would help market their product, such as those who printed the labels for food containers.

As the year progressed, the teacher found that students needed structure and support to keep them on task. She set up a checklist of key tasks so that she and the students could keep track of deadlines and monitor their progress.

By the end of the year all of the Year 13 students achieved the YES certificate (equivalent to 10 credits). Approximately half achieved technology achievement standards. Some of the students in the course lacked the prerequisite knowledge and literacy skills to complete the achievement standards and this made it difficult for them to acquire Level 3 achievement standards. In the future students will be expected to have met Level 2 literacy and numeracy requirements before they enrol.

The students told ERO that the course had been fun and they enjoyed working in a different way to their other classes. In particular, students reported they had learnt about working together, motivating others, managing their time and how to organise themselves. They also learnt about possible future careers in business and food technology. One group received an award at the annual YES award dinner.

The teacher has modified courses at other year levels to develop the enterprise skills of students before they reach Year 13. The school is including some of the new technology achievement standards at Level 1 in 2011 and hopes to extend and include Level 2 technology standards in the food and nutrition course. Another challenge was the product brief supplied by the business that worked with the class. The brief did not appeal to the students and the teacher has taken this into account in the following year’s course.