Innovation and enterprise at SACS

By 2030, a significant number of Australian workers will be in jobs and roles we have not even dreamed of yet. So how do Australian schools prepare today’s students for the unknown workforce of tomorrow? St Andrew’s Cathedral School discusses how innovation and enterprise is embedded into the curriculum.

Head of St Andrew’s Cathedral School (SACS), Dr John Collier, says new and emerging technologies, along with significant changes in society, are forcing schools to re-think what and how they teach students.

“The future world for which we are attempting to prepare students increasingly requires enterprise thinking and an innovation mindset. This being the case, we want to equip our students, while at school, for their employment futures,” he says.

“Modern education places an increasing premium on student thinking, including that which is enterprising and innovative in nature.”

To this end, enterprise thinking has been embedded across the school, primarily through the creation of the new Innovation and Enterprise portfolio led by Mrs Corinna Bailey.

This exciting initiative has seen SACS grow its connections with neighbouring universities, along with entrepreneurs and businesses, in an effort to be at the forefront of emerging trends in the workforce.

Dr Collier says the school’s city centre location places it in the perfect position to take full advantage of alliances and partnerships with city professionals.

“Enterprise and innovation involves going out into the city and bringing the city into the school. It involves design thinking, advanced technology and interdisciplinary thinking,” he explains. “It also includes and subsumes STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). This is an exciting initiative for our school, which we hope will become distinctive as we try to position our students to their future advantage.”

The Director of Innovation and Enterprise, Mrs Bailey, adds that the school aims to enhance and embed thinking and enterprise skill development in the existing curriculum and to also form external partnerships which bridge the divide between education and the workforce.

“We are moving away from a knowledge economy into a time where preparing students for the future requires us to equip them with a diverse skillset transferable across discipline areas. While universities are starting think labs and incubators, there has been a gap for students at junior and high school level to extend themselves in this way.

“We now have a greater focus on embedding thinking skills through design thinking and enterprise skills in the inquiry process of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and our NESA syllabus,” she reveals.

The highlight of the innovation and enterprise push in 2018 was StartUp, an intensive six-week entrepreneurial journey for students willing to take a risk and try something new.

More than 15 small groups of students from Years 5 to 11 worked with leading innovators and entrepreneurs to turn their fledgling idea into a business. Parents, alumni and industry professionals were all too willing to mentor students and share their expertise.

“It was an amazing process in which many of our Old Andreans, along with parents and industry professionals with experience in the start-up space, came together to share their passion and expertise with students,” Mrs Bailey explains. “Each group of students was allocated a mentor for the duration of the program and we held five workshops, with each workshop having a different focus. The StartUp Finale in September saw three finalists presenting their pitch to our judges, with our other entrants displayed in our entrepreneur gallery.”

The SACS Entrepreneurs of the Year were Year 10 students Harry Carson, Tom Eizenberg and Keziah Bailey, who developed a slotted timber balance bike that is designed to grow with the rider in their fundamental years.

Harry says he was thrilled with the result. “It was really exciting. I think along the way I’ve learnt a lot about leadership and how to pitch applications. The program was definitely helpful.”

Finn Cole, who was part of the team that designed a digital globe that displays the world as it currently is and used to be using 3D LED fan technology adds, “I’ve loved being able to communicate and engage with people who really know what they’re doing and who are working in the startup and entrepreneurial space. Being able to learn from people who are already doing this stuff was really useful.”

One of the StartUp judges, Dr Anna Wright, founder of start-up Bindimaps, says she was impressed with the passion of the students and saw great value in the journey of discovery they underwent.

“The process of talking about how to validate and pivot ideas, how to build small and test ideas are all valuable steps for students to explore, no matter what kind of job they end up doing,” she explains.

“I loved that the students weren’t confined to ‘what is possible’ but rather used their imagination to see how they could make the world a better place. Many adults jump straight to a solution after finding the idea, rather than living in the idea or problem long enough to really identify and quantify the next step.”

For Mrs Bailey, StartUp is just the beginning. “I’m building networks and forming partnerships with industry, universities and experts around entrepreneurial activity in order to bridge the divide between school and the real world. This will enable us to show our young entrepreneurs the relevance of our diverse offering of subjects and how they create pathways to a broad range of careers.”

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