Landesgymnasium for gifted children Schwäbisch Gmünd
- Business Economy
- Rationale and general information
As there is no compulsory economics class in secondary education; pupils can leave the school without having a good basic economic and entrepreneurial education. Aiming at filling this gap and responding to students’ interest in economy, the school decided to launch a series of entrepreneurial education activities and to create an economy and business track at the school.
School already had cooperations with the manufacturers association Südwestmetall and the JUNIOR-Project – a project of entrepreneurial education, which is compulsory for the students and is offered by the Institute of the German Economy Cologne (Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln), which led to the creation of a first practice firm.
But before implementing the new education activities, many valuable information about founding, running and being successful in a practice firm was lost with the pupils leaving the school after their graduation in the 12th grade (Abitur).
The big goal was to introduce a framework that allows to offer valuable information for the future entrepreneurs in the practice firms by the former junior entrepreneurs.
Sustainable learning should be made possible and promoted by developing a system or model that enables it. One of the further major reasons was also the idea to offer the possibility of getting the “feeling” of economy and entrepreneurial education already in the 8th to the 10th grades
The high level of the school makes innovation possible, through developing, promoting and evaluating new methods and areas of learning at the school.
- Budget and financing sources
Club of entrepreneurs is financed by the state’s teacher budget for the school.
Südwestmetall gave an important financial contribution
- Human resources
A teacher is responsible for organizing the education activities and teaching the subjects relevant to it.
An important specificity of the school is the system of school mentors (Gymnasialmentoren). Pupils can choose from among the teachers a mentor, who guides and facilitates his or her development and future career sometimes also long after school in cooperation with his colleagues and the parents of the pupil.
There were four support lines in the design of the the entrepreneurial education activities to achieve the goal of intensifying student’s exposition to economics and anchoring this knowledge in the school and its activities.
The first support line was to establish a second practice firm for the grades 7 to 10, in the form of a new subject, supported by the school’s management. This new subject which is called club of entrepreneurs (Unternehmerclub) can be chosen as a compulsory elective by the students of this age group. In order to keep the workload reasonable, the instruction in the regular subjects (fundamentum) is shortened in some school years and some subjects (for example physics). In this club, the pupils developed a shop for the school named „LGH-Shop“.
The second support came from external partners. Entrepreneurship training (such as business model generation) and advice was offered by the Würth Foundation. Further advice came from the Institute of the German Economy, which supports this program of practice firms since 1994. It is important to mention, that the pupils in this practice firm are very free. Without initial financial resources they establish a firm for the period of a year and develop their own business idea.
The third support line is of bigger importance for the whole project by developing an integrated mentoring programme. Its objective was, that experienced pupils of the 12th grade (some pupils in this program came also from the 11th grade) teach future entrepreneurs from the grades 7 to 10 the way of economic thinking and acting. The mentoring programme was enhanced by publishing a handbook of quality management. The handbook is designed like a business plan with chapters e. g. about business model generation, financing, public relations with valuable tips and resources like networking contacts and so on.
The fourth support line was designed to coach the teachers and team members themselves and provide resources for this part of school development.
The main partner is the province group of Südwestmetall in Eastern Württemberg based in Aalen
JUNIOR-Project is organized in cooperation with the manufacturers association Südwestmetall
Entrepreneurial education offered by the Institute of the German Economy Cologne (Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln)
- Success factors
- The reliability in the team was and is the most important success factor of the project.
- Another very important success factor is the support of the school management. Without the devoted consent of the school principal, projects can hardly be successful.
- The strategic partnership with external partners is a key success factor.
- Enduring evaluation of the project has to be done to avoid cul de sacs and prevent a bad atmosphere in the project team.
- It is primarily the pupils and the teachers in the economy and business track who matter. But it is very necessary to inform and involve the whole school about the activities of the project. Like engineering, entrepreneurship should solve problems and facilitate life.
- Taking part in competitions leads to a stronger motivation and identification with the project. Therefore, goals can be achieved faster.
- The most important achievement is the implementation of permanent opportunities of sustainable learning in the field of entrepreneurship.
- It can be regarded as an essential innovation, that pupils can now attend a subject dealing with economy, business and entrepreneurship already in the 7th grade.
- Owing to this pioneering work, evaluation is extremely important. Therefore, we evaluated the project in several meetings with the pupils.
- October 16th 2013, the school was awarded with the second place of the Würth Price of Education in Stuttgart. In the year before, the practice firm of the 11th-grader of the school participating in the JUNIOR-project won the price for the best practice firm in Baden-Württemberg.
- Robert Bauer, RobertBauerLGH@gmx.de