Academy of Lilles - Innovation camp
This case study was prepared by Jean-Claude Flinois from Lilles Rectorate, edited by Joseph Tixier from the OECD LEED Programme
The Academy of Lille is the administrative structure of the decentralized departments of Education in the Nord-Pas de Calais region. Reporting to the Rector, it is responsible for organizing regional politic defined by the Minister of Education. It’s composed by a central head office called “rectorat” and two departments corresponding to the area of Nord and Pas de Calais.
The academy is divided in fourteen basins of education. They include schools, colleges and high schools in an area roughly corresponding to employment areas, allowing a comprehensive approach with economic policies and regional spatial planning.
The Academy stands out for numbers: first of all, with 851,261 students attending school structures of the first and second degrees of public and private schools, it ranks second nationally. It is also the first Academy in France for vocational education (in fact, nearly 50% of students opt for vocational education after the last year of lower secondary education, at around 15 years old). The Academy also faces below national average rates of students pursuing studies in higher education and more than 6,000 drop outs each year.
Regarding economic development, the Nord-Pas de Calais region is distinguished by its very strong social tradition and a low rate of venture creation and takeover compared to national average. From this point of view, youth’s access to economic initiative enables a cultural shift from a wage system towards a more flexible and personalised approach to professional project. The priority is to make all the tools of education, training and professionalism available to young people, so that it enables them to become enlightened citizens, able to engage in the economic and social field.
In 2011, following a report on entrepreneurship, developed for the Regional Economic Development Plan in the Nord-Pas de Calais, the Rector has positioned the Academy of Lille as a pilot academy for entrepreneurship in education. This project is led by a special department called “School Enterprise relationship”.
Since then, extensive work of actions identification and consultation of local stakeholders in this area was conducted in conjunction with the Regional Council of Nord Pas de Calais, in the framework of the Regional Strategy Initiative and Entrepreneurship (SRIE). It aims at developing the economic culture of the region’s inhabitants in order to provide them with an insight of their environment so that they can eventually engage in any economic initiative whatsoever by creating business or economic and social initiative. It starts with a single and unifying postulate: entrepreneurship is the best incentive for development and economic growth of a region.
Six pilot groups were jointly led by the Regional Council and the Academy of Lille. One of them is called: Initiatives at school. During late 2011, the Rector and the Regional Council of Nord-Pas-de-Calais signed a partnership agreement to develop the entrepreneurial mind-set throughout the school career. A quantitative goal was to reach 10% of the student population in the next 5 years, approximately 100,000 young people.
For many years, one of the leading tools to nurture an entrepreneurial mind-set has been the setting up of “mini firms” in colleges and high schools. This has been recognized by experts to be an effective teaching method for a while but also a potentially time consuming one. Teachers and school leaders were not always ready for a “mini-firms” in their schools. For this reason, teachers and academy inspectors (in France teachers do not report to the head teacher but to an academy inspector in their respective fields) were not convinced of the efficiency of project-based teaching. Moreover, not knowing this pedagogical tool very well made them reluctant to engage.
No action existed at this time to enable a shorter introduction for students to learn about the entrepreneurial mind-set. So the main idea is first to inspire young people and teachers to engage in entrepreneurship. To show the audience, students, everyone is capable of having ideas and projects and that all are able to successfully lead them to the end.
“Entreprendre pour Apprendre Nord Pas de Calais” (EPA), member of the Junior Achievement – Young Entrepreneurship (JA-YE) network and a partner of the Academy, co-financed by the region, has implemented two new tools for that specification with the teaching staff of the Academy.
Description of the activity/project
To implement the SRIE, the Academy of Lille has gathered a team of three teachers that were seconded by school on a full time basis and led by a project manager. Their mission was to raise awareness, develop and promote actions in favour of entrepreneurship in the academy of Lille.
As many initiatives existed with different actors, an inventory had to be made. Educational inspection of the academy issued pedagogical advices and positioned the various actions already in place in the curriculum as part of a procedure for certification of educational actions. This inventory also helped to highlight the wide variety of educational actions that promote entrepreneurship as a key competence at different levels and in different subjects.
The Academy of Lille, together with the local actors, decided to expand the range of tools offered to teachers and students, considering the low impact of existing tools.
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Awareness about entrepreneurship has multiple objectives related to academic outputs. In this context, the Academy of Lille wants to generalize entrepreneurship related actions with internal and external stakeholders of Education in order to:
- At the school l, teachers and students level :
- Have all institutions learn about the tools developed by the Academy and the Regional Council in order to raise awareness about entrepreneurship among teachers and students,
- Train educational teams to project-based teaching and tools to raise awareness on economic initiatives and encourage institutions to integrate awareness rising of entrepreneurship in their school’s projects and educational activities,
- To inspire young people to be entrepreneurs in order to create an economic activity or association, or undertake in everyday life and throughout working life.
- Train young people to project management and promote social integration and greater confidence in their own abilities.
- Extend the scope of personal professional projects to include managerial functions and a better knowledge of how economic organizations work: enterprises, cooperatives, associations, etc.
- Fight against early school drop-outs by offering students easily transferable concrete professional projects.
- At the Academy
- Massively increasing the number of young people that aware of entrepreneurial concepts in the next five years.
- Organize and setup an "entrepreneurial skills path” in connection with higher education
- Communicate and give visibility to the Nord Pas de Calais and its territorial dynamics of entrepreneurship
- Organize the research on the effects of rising awareness on entrepreneurship in young people and teachers.
As a result, two new projects are developed as part of the experiment: the Your World, Your Business (recently renamed Generation ID) action, carried out in three main moments of the school year and the Innovation Camp action that is organized over a day
Your World, Your Business (Generation ID)
The first tool is rather aimed at higher secondary students in general education track (as opposed to the technological or professional tracks that provide vocational education).
It is an awareness rising module that consists in 3 sessions spread over the school year, and enrolling in the "basic principles of Economics and Management" module. This tool was developed with the help of an academy inspector in economics and management classes, who validated the approach and its consistency with the Explorer module.
Each facility has received three sessions, as follows:
- In the first quarter of the school year: 3hr session dedicated to the search for the entrepreneurial mind-set. After an "icebreaker" activity, students are asked to search for a business idea.
- In the second quarter: 3hr session dedicated to the sales and marketing strategy in a company
- In the third quarter: 3 hour session, dedicated to the presentation of the business idea and an exchange with entrepreneurs to discover the venture creation journey.
Innovation Camp is an event organized by EPA (Enterprise for Learning Nord Pas de Calais), the Academy of Lille and local partners.
Throughout the region, innovation camps are made in collaboration with local elected officials, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, with the guidance of development agencies and companies to organize a major event dedicated to youth entrepreneurship (between 100 and 150 participants for each events)
The participants are young people from 13 to 22 years old, accompanied by a volunteer teacher, who want to discover entrepreneurial activities and integrates innovation camp in a global educational project
- Education Level:
- End of lower secondary and higher secondary education
- Educational Objectives
- Learn to analyze and argue
- Develop critical thinking
- Explore the investigative approach
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EPA runs the Innovation Camp during the day, through creativity and teamwork methods that have proven themselves in businesses. EPA and local partners build the event together and can set a theme for the day: new technologies, the third industrial revolution, an eco-neighborhood project that could be implemented in the territory.
During the day, teachers are encouraged to support young people in their work, to be ready for the jury that will take place later in the day.
At the end of the Innovation Camp, EPA provides teachers with learning material to continue the learning process after they return in their classrooms. This tool can be the first step in the entrepreneurship journey.
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The aim for the young students is to create a real firm throughout the school year. The firm will get a bank account, an administrative settlement, and the production should be sold before the end of school year.
These projects help both students and teachers to set foot on the path of entrepreneurship and is supported throughout the whole hierarchy.
Links of the activity/project with the external world
The activity is systematically organized in a venue outside the school: business offices, chamber of commerce. Students involved in the action are not from the same class or the same institution and sometimes not even at the same level of education.
This mix of public and venues allows nurturing open-mindedness and offers a greater diversity of projects. The exchanges are richer as each participant brings in his competence and diversity whether technical or literary and finds its place and can learn from others.
The school in the community
The activity is organized systematically on a place outside school: business, chamber of commerce ...
Students involved in the action are not in the same class or the same institution and sometimes not at the same level.
This mix of public and place allows you to enlarge the field of view and offers a greater diversity of projects. The exchanges are richer. Each participant with his competence and diversity, whether technical or literary finds its place and can be upgraded. Moreover, this diversity can be transported between students on different educational paths and create opportunities
Achievements and impact
These actions are often a first entrepreneurial action for the students and the teachers. It often eliminates the apprehension and removes the fear of the unknown. Today, these actions are mainly turned to the target audience: students. At the very beginning of the experiment, tests were carried out on teacher training at the Academic training planning groups.
When the animator began to explain about entrepreneurship, the group closed itself. He appeared to be uncharted land for the group. Very quickly the animator presented the innovation camp and began the activity "icebreaker". This group of teachers quickly got involved in the project, and produced many quality projects. They were surprised to discover that they were able to measure the impact that this action could have on their students. Many camps were organized thereafter and it became quite common for students going to an innovation camp to engage into more entrepreneurial actions in schools. Now every year more than 20 innovation camp organized with groups of 60 to 120 students
- The 3 teachers working on the implementation of the SRIE met the teaching staff of the schools, easing dialogue by mutual understanding.
- Bringing together different types of public, for example vocational students and general education students, generates emulation and uncover synergies.
- Prepare upstream intervention with co-organizer to find unanimously accepted themes on which to base the actions
- Giving all actors the occasion and willingness to present their idea by building respect and mutual trust in the organizers group
- Involve all participants in the organisational process
- Providing opportunities of free transportations for students to reach the different venues
- Organise the innovation camp in an attractive area
Obstacles and ways to overcome them
To setup the initiative within Schools and prevent any opposition to it, the Academy of Lille wished to gather all actors of Education: educational inspectors, school head unions and teacher union representatives, the student’s representatives to the School Boards, representatives of parents’ associations and representatives of the Regional Council. The greater reluctance came from union representatives who considered that this strategy would promote the development of capitalism and to transform all students into “bosses”.
The semantics work has been fundamental to explain to all the stakeholders that the development of entrepreneurship in the school would be oriented on the entrepreneurial mind-set development in the wider definition of it, that is the sense of innovation and turning ideas into actions.
On the first days of implementing the initiative, we found out that the teachers were passive during the events, leaving students to themselves and under the responsibility of EPA.
To remedy this, we:
- Organized "icebreaker" activities among the involved teachers by having them try out the activity proposed to the students amongst each other. This allowed them to get to know each other, to adhere to the proposed activities, and also to adopt an active and entrepreneurial attitude.
- An animators’ guide was written by and for teachers, outlining their roles on each proposed activity, expected result and how to guide students.
- On the first sessions, we had trouble engaging students as they showed a strong inertia. In order for them to adopt a more proactive attitude, in was necessary to deconstruct their “traditional” class dynamics, partly by mixing them with other group of students. Teachers were required as well not to stay with their own students, but to accompany students from other schools. At the beginning of the camps, an activity was designed to randomly group students together, with the constraint that they should not know each other. Upon arrival, students naturally sit with their own classmates. They then have to draw a card from a 54 card deck. Once all the cards are dealt, students are asked to build teams based on the drawn cards: for example, all students who drew a "diamond" card group together. This easy technique helped to put students into a more active position.
- For some institutions, transportation of students can be difficult to finance. The Academy and its partners mentioned in this case study, alongside the help obtained from the European Social Fund offered financing solution to allow cheap or free transportation for the most financially vulnerable students and institutions.