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Highfurlong, UK

Highfurlong School is situated in the English seaside town of Blackpool in the north-west of the country and provides for students with moderate, severe, medical and physical difficulties. It teaches boys and girls aged 4 to 19. There are approximately 60 students; usually over 20 sixteen to nineteen-year-olds are in the sixth form.

In recent years ever more students have revealed additional emotional, communication or complex learning difficulties. For example, 40% of the pupils have a degree of visual impairment and 35% have hearing impairments alongside their physical disabilities. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and language support are part of the school’s curriculum. As a result the majority are working well below national expectations. It is regarded as an outstanding school which provides very good value for money.

Education for students over the age of 16 is based around a life skills curriculum linked to qualifications.

“Highfurlong school is committed to ensuring that every student has the opportunity to develop enterprise skills and capabilities. Businesses require future employees who can be innovative in their approach and adapt to change with a range of problem-solving skills. Such skills are an essential part of student preparation for adult life and the working world. We believe that successful enterprise learning will occur when it is embedded in the curriculum alongside work-related learning, information and advice and guidance (careers) citizenship and the curriculum. This will require good leadership.”(Headteacher)

The enterprise education policy aims to make sure that all young people get useful experience of entrepreneurship education. Experience has shown that this motivates pupils at all stages especially since they become highly motivated and more successful as they see real purpose and relevance in their schoolwork to their future lives.

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The activity

Teachers in the school now recognise that ‘enterprise education’ requires a different approach to learning and teaching and this has evolved over recent years. The concept of enterprise continues to evolve; but the main aims are:

  • to help young people to become more enterprising in their approach to life and in particular;
  • to provide a focus on the development of business entrepreneurship;
  • and to include core skills, employability skills, careers education and work-related learning as well as aspects of personal and social development within the enterprise curriculum.

The school has in fact identified a student enterprise entitlement. In addition to classroom activities, all pupils actively participate in enterprise focus weeks in November and June when the school timetable is completely suspended for special entrepreneurial activity. Enterprise also features at key times during the year, for example for Valentine’s Day in February or Mother’s Day in March.

Activities for learning are delivered in a cross curricular or a modular way. Additionally, students are able to attend a popular after-school Enterprise Club. They are involved in fundraising events and local community activities. The school even offers enterprise club activities during holiday periods!

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The development of enterprise learning is seen as the responsibility of the entire school leadership team although there is a designated enterprise facilitator, Joanne Martin, who recently won a National Government Department of Education Teaching Award for Enterprise. No fewer than six numbers of staff gained a qualification training them to teach and a credit enterprise education activities.

The school is particularly proud of the outcomes that have emerged for its special needs and disabled student group. There is clear evidence that enterprise curriculum has:

  • motivated students who can then learn with increasing independence and achieve more highly;
  • developed a range of enterprising attitude and skills for this demanding student body;
  • helped to create a learning environment where students take responsibility for their own actions;
  • encouraged involvement in activity which is explicitly entrepreneurial and business orientated;
  • supported career education strongly and linked to the school program of vocational and work-related learning.

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