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"We want to give students the skills to start their own business"


A Year 12 curriculum with a focus on entrepreneurship will be offered under a State Liberal policy unveiled today.

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The plan revisits a policy the Opposition took to the 2014 election, but expands it with a focus on regional and rural schools.

Education spokesman John Gardner said a Liberal Government would create a specialist program, with the transformation of four campuses into specialist “Entrepreneurial Schools”.

That’s up from the three proposed at the last election, but two of them will be based in rural and regional areas and would boast a particular focus on engaging with primary industries.

“It was a good policy then and it remains needed in our schools,” Gardner told InDaily.

“Just as some schools are specialist music, performing arts or sports schools at the moment, some schools will see an opportunity to go down this path.”

When the equivalent policy was announced three years ago, it was part of a proposal that would see the contentious Year 12 research project, introduced in 2011, made non-compulsory.

Gardner said the Liberals had not yet decided whether that approach would be retained.

“We’re having a look at that in the period ahead to determine whether that would stay the same,” he said.

“We haven’t yet made a decision in that area.”

However, he did outline a suite of measures designed to bolster the business credentials of school-leavers, with the Liberals pledging to work with educational experts, industry leaders and the SACE Board to develop a new range of subjects focused on entrepreneurialism.

These subjects, Gardner said, would complement existing workplace-related studies but have a particular bent towards enterprise, starting up and running businesses, and would be available to all schools that wanted to introduce them.

He said the rural focus was inspired by the work of Flinders University Professor John Halsey – a former principal in both regional and metropolitan schools – who has long called for entrepreneurial education to become a priority in rural schools.

“There is an urgent need – and opportunity – to harness the potential of the students who live in rural areas, which are the source of most of our food, energy and minerals and where the natural environment is most abundant,” Halsey said earlier this year.

“We have to shift the focus of schooling to prepare rural student to be creators of jobs and careers and sustainers of healthy communities.”

Gardner said that the two “primary industries entrepreneurial schools” would be in close proximity to agriculture and mining companies, areas that would drive the state’s future prosperity.

“To make that start in business in those areas requires young people having the skills and ability to visualise themselves starting a business,” Gardner said.

“We have students in Year 12 studying legal studies because they can see themselves as lawyers… we want to give students the skills and confidence to imagine themselves turning an idea into a small business start-up.”

He said the four specialist school sites had not yet been earmarked, but anticipated there would be plenty of interest.

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