Innovation and Enterprise
“Globalisation has transformed industry and fundamentally changed jobs and employment, demanding people with greater creativity, resilience, and with entrepreneurial skills and global competency.” (Glover, 2015).
In 2018, St Andrew’s Cathedral School launched its Innovation and Enterprise portfolio, with the aim of making students future-ready, where interdisciplinary skills and critical and innovative thinking will be required to solve complex problems that face the world and even threaten the survival of humanity. We want to ensure our students are prepared and can effectively contribute to this unknown future with valuable and versatile skills that stand the test of time.
Our challenge is to adapt current curricula (that is often dominated by substantial bodies of factual and procedural knowledge), so that students can apply deep understandings of key disciplinary concepts and principles to real-world interconnected and interdisciplinary problems with an attitude of flexibility, openness to change and a willingness to learn continually.
Targeting Years 5 – 12 students, the SACS Future Proof program features four cross-disciplinary areas of development, offering projects and programs that are embedded into the curriculum and also offered as optional co-curricular projects.
The four key areas of development are Interdisciplinary, Entrepreneurial, Guided Inquiry and Digital Technologies.
Personal Project – students in Years 9-10
A major aim of our Middle Years Programme (Years 7 – 10) is to develop critical thinkers who successfully integrate disciplinary perspectives to understand complex issues and ideas. The Personal Project is a requirement of the MYP and is a major self-directed research project each student in Year 9 undertakes over a nine-month period in order to develop and demonstrate some of their learning across the curriculum. It showcases the work students have completed throughout their Middle Years schooling – focusing on the way they approach learning and their range of learner skills (ATLs). (ATLs or Approaches to Learning are the human skills which set us apart from robots and artificial intelligence.) The ATLs are embedded in the curriculum and pastoral programs and drive achievement of learning goals.
The Personal Project is similar in concept to the genius hour and passion projects. There is much research supporting the concept of freedom of creative expression to develop learning. The Personal Project ties together the school’s work in Guided Inquiry (which is design thinking for research), the MakerSpace movement and Interdisciplinary approaches to learning.
The work of Kuhlthau (1991) researching student inquiry through directed research tasks has uncovered an opportunity for teachers to assist students to develop, through targeted intervention, the skills needed to respond to the uncertainty of an ever-changing world. The students articulate their experiences at various stages of the process, which enables the teacher to support and guide the next stages of learning. This helps students build and develop the traits of resilience, risk-taking and open mindedness.
Each year, Years 5–11 students are invited to participate in StartUp, a six-week-long intensive co-curricular program, which sees small groups of students learn about the process of being an entrepreneur. Partnering with experts in the entrepreneurial and start-up space, students receive hands-on guidance in the step-by-step development of their idea. At the Finale event at the end of the eight weeks, three finalists get the chance to pitch their idea to a panel of external judges, who examine the process undertaken by each team. Awards are presented to those teams whose ideas have advanced dramatically from the initial idea and have demonstrated the skills and passion needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
This hands-on program helps establish a culture of enterprise at SACS and develops an entrepreneurial spirit in students who are willing to be courageous and learn how to take guided steps towards developing their ideas with innovative solutions. The overriding purpose of this program is for students to understand that without action on their part, they cannot expect anything to change. Courage is the backbone of success – the courage to try and to fail and to be someone who makes a difference in the world. This is the entrepreneurial spirit encouraged at SACS.
In 2019, the theme for StartUp was taken from the UN Sustainability Goals: quality education, affordable clean energy, reduction in inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, climate action. Students were encouraged to develop ideas within one of these five categories that will improve the world in which we live. The Finale was held on 17 September 2019.
One of the major challenges in classrooms today is discovering ways to expand our students’ capacity to learn. This means that in addition to mastering a skill, students also need to be ready and willing to apply that skill more broadly to enable a deeper level of understanding. David Geary’s (2002) work shows us how we can multiply the mental capacity of groups working together by explicitly teaching and building relevant skills. This research supports the use of interdisciplinary tasks that enable our students to become independent and collaborative, critical and innovative, agile and entrepreneurial. In the world, solutions to societal challenges and the nature of work are becoming increasingly cross-disciplinary and workplaces are increasingly being organised around teamwork and require excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Building and enhancing the MYP ATLs and mirroring this structure is important to prepare all of our students for the future.
Inquiry-based learning is being introduced across all academic disciplines at SACS. Students are taught the Guided Inquiry Process and practise using it from Year 7 onwards. Over time, students come to realise the value of following this inquiry process for every assignment. Where possible, students are encouraged to choose their own area of interest and develop their own questions – this is at the heart of inquiry learning.
Students at SACS have access to a great range of digital technologies and expertise to support their guided inquiry and entrepreneurial activities. These include hardware such as a 3D printer and laser cutter and specialist staff – an Innovation Hub engineer/coding specialist and a technician/mentor to support students and staff with hardware trouble-shooting. Students who can combine their knowledge of STEM subjects and use digital technologies to help solve problems will be well prepared for life beyond school where they will be highly valued if they can apply key disciplinary concepts and principles to interconnected, complex problems while also being open to change and willing to learn.