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Linwood College – Community connections to support enterprise

Linwood College, Christchurch, is a low-decile, co-educational school that has actively developed partnerships with the community and got involved in enterprise education to help change the perception of the school.

Working with your community and board of trustees on realistic and manageable strategic goals for enterprise education

Linwood College developed a strategic approach to the introduction and development of enterprise education. Enterprise offered one way to reinvent itself.

Although staff were keen to learn how this approach could be integrated across all learning areas, they first needed to spend time developing a common understanding about what "enterprise" meant to them. They consulted with parents, students, and the wider community about what they wanted Linwood to offer them. The outcome was a desire to develop broad teaching and learning experiences within authentic learning contexts that would challenge and motivate students.

It was decided to focus on just one subject area first, and so maths students were consulted about what they saw as barriers to their learning within the subject. This resulted in a decision to create some learning tools that supported student access to information – namely, a dictionary of mathematical terms and a rap recording of times tables.

Engaging with business and the community

The school actively developed partnerships within the community that could support them to achieve the goals they had set. One such partnership was formed with ADEPT, a private training establishment, which shared its knowledge of web skills and design tools with the students to enable them to produce the times tables CD in both English and te reo Māori. ADEPT suggested that as well as developing these learning tools to support the Linwood students, they could also be marketed and sold to other schools. Through this association with the school, ADEPT was able to put into practice some of its own theories about enterprise education. Part funding for this developmental exercise came from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Gathering information and monitoring progression

The development of the mathematical dictionary and rap recording of maths times tables came from a group of interested students who were overseen by staff and ADEPT personnel. An outside company was engaged to produce the final product.

Two focus groups of adults/parents/students – one Māori, and one open to all – were used to monitor progression and suitability for commercial production. All teaching staff received two hours of professional development training in and exposure to enterprise education, facilitated by ADEPT.

At the end of the process, the products did not gain enough commercial traction to make a profit. However, the process itself was very valuable for students to learn all the steps involved in the production and marketing of a product as part of a team.

Alongside this, other Linwood students were, and continue to be, involved annually in the Young Enterprise Scheme. External business mentors as well as Linwood staff guide senior students towards the successful marketing of a product.

In turning a school around, there is no panacea, but rather a number of initiatives that together engage a significant number of students and create the momentum to change the school culture. Enterprise is one such activity that engages students.

community engagement

Published on: 27 Mar 2015