Conference organiser and entrepreneurship teacher Darren Irvine says EIS18 will help educators prepare their students for the future.

“Where entrepreneurial learning is different ... is it’s really arisen from a need for young people to be flexible, to be adaptive, to be creative, to be confident communicators, so that they can be successful in the current landscape of society...” he says.

“There’s lots of reports out there of young people having five careers and 17 jobs and employers not being happy with the quality of graduates because they lack the soft skills, and I think what entrepreneurial learning addresses is this need to develop those soft skills.”

The Entrepreneurship in Schools Conference will have a collaborative, practical environment.

“The focus is on equipping school leaders and school staff with the tools and knowledge to go and implement entrepreneurial learning programs in their school,” Irvine says.

“And really, what underpins entrepreneurial learning is creating authentic, real-world learning experiences that work towards developing entrepreneurial skills and an entrepreneurial mindset.”

Compared to last year’s inaugural conference, Irvine says that EIS18 will be more “informal but active”.

“It’s a working space where staff can actually feed off each other to develop the best possible program for their school. 

“So there’ll be learning, there’ll be sharing of what’s already out there, but there’ll definitively be a focus on doing.”

The conference will also showcase Templestowe College’s innovative approach to entrepreneurial learning.

“At TC we have a whole-school approach to entrepreneurship, and at one level we have an elective called entrepreneurship, but we also are looking at developing product-based learning in all of our electives, so right across the school,” Irvine says.

This product-based learning will be on display at EIS18.

“Attendees will actually see entrepreneurial learning in action. So last year we had the school coffee cart at the conference, all the catering was done by students who actually had to sell the morning tea and the lunch to guests using the TC currency,” Irvine says.

“There’s also [an] exhibition space for student businesses and opportunities for students to share what they’re doing.

“One student for example, last year ... [an] autism spectrum disorder (ASD) student who actually runs a consulting business helping schools to support students with ASD, was able to showcase her business and has since had the opportunity to present in a number of schools following that; so there’ll be more of that as well this year.”

Students at Templestowe College are given plenty of responsibility, and when Irvine details his philosophy around entrepreneurial learning it’s not difficult to see why.

“What it is, is to empower young people to actually be in control of their own direction, so being able to make decisions in a world where we’re bombarded with infinite choices. 

“If students can have the tools to navigate their way, then I think we’ve done a good job,” he says.