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Scottish Schools Pioneer Gamification of Enterprise Learning

Scottish Schools Pioneer Gamification of Enterprise Learning

Five schools and over 300 pupils in Perth & Kinross have become pioneers in enterprise learning, having taken part in an award-winning business simulation game. 

The schools were enlisted to pilot The Business Challenge, which tests pupils’ financial capabilities, problem-solving, teamwork and initiative as they operate an online company over a four-week period. The pupils formed teams and then these teams competed against each other within an online marketplace.

As part of the pilot, they were also mentored and assessed by local entrepreneurs to allow the pupils, and their teachers, to share ideas, and work together to develop their enterprise and digital skills. 

All the teams were drawn from S2 and S3 year groups, whenyoung people begin to make choices about their future. Located in a predominantly rural area, the option for them to set up and run their own business and become self-employed is a very real one, making The Business Challengeparticularly relevant to their educational needs.

The game, which won a Digital Transformation Award, is a collaboration between Young Enterprise (YE) Scotland, Scotland’s Enterprising Schools, and the University of Glasgow andbegan as a project during COVID to build remote learning options for school pupils working from home. A digitisation of YE Scotland’s Company Programme, The Business Challenge is accessible via a website and is driven by an AI programme that adapts to how the pupils react to life-like market conditions and scores accordingly. 

The pilot was carried out in association with the charity GrowBiz and Perth & Kinross Council, Education and Children’s Services,to ensure that it was anchored in real-life experience. It introduced lesson plans for the teachers and brought in local business people to provide feedback and create lasting connections. Following its success, The Business Challenge is to be rolled out nationally in August.

Julie Degnan is the Project Manager for Scotland’s Enterprising Schools, which is delivered by Young Enterprise Scotland. She said:

“We’re delighted with the success of the pilot of The Business Challenge. It is the culmination of a two-year project and a hugely inspirational collaboration that started with the computer science students at Glasgow University and then extended to schools, Perth & Kinross Council and local businesses. It encapsulates our ‘learning by doing’ philosophy at all levels and we’re looking forward to taking the game to schools across Scotland at the start of the next academic year.

“We know pupils develop through enterprise activity. They build their confidence, communication skills, creativity, financial capability, organisational ability, work readiness and aspiration – all skills which are crucial for success in life, not just for running a business. The Business Challenge introduces the entrepreneurial mindset in a way that resonates with the pupils and works for teachers.”

Monica Young, Project Officer, Education & Children’s Services, Perth & Kinross Council, added:

“We live in a largely rural area where many people are self-employed. It is therefore important that our schools reflect this in the education opportunities they provide. The Business Challengehas proved a great way to inspire young people at the point at which they make their course choices while providing them with practical information and local connections that could make a huge difference to their future. It is a way to support them on a pathway that could lead to setting themselves up in their own businesses.”

Clair Smith is a member ofGrowBiz, a charity dedicated to supporting businesses in rural communities. Invited to take part in the pilot to add real-life experience she judged and scored the competing teamswith her colleague, Angela Laurie. She said:

“It is so important that students of this age start to have conversations about their future. The game is a form of ‘pressure test’ to understand and begin to develop the skills needed to set up a business. But while a great deal can be achieved online, it was also recognised that real personal connections, particularly for those living in rural areas, is invaluable and we were delighted to take part. The results of the business game were tremendous and judging the teams’ efforts was both humbling and inspiring.”

The schools involved were Breadalbane Academy (14 teams), Crieff High (10 teams), Kinross High (24 teams), Perth Academy (40 teams) and Pitlochry High (2 teams).

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