Girls and an Entrepreneurial Mindset

This year we launched our pilot ESSTEAM (Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) program in Years 5 and…

This year we launched our pilot ESSTEAM (Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) program in Years 5 and 6, an innovative program that engages our girls in new ways of thinking and learning.

Pilot programs are planned for a selection of Year 10 classes in Semester 2, with a full launch in 2023 across Years 5-10.

In the past, schools have created innovators and entrepreneurs by accident, rather than by design. While the subject of entrepreneurship remains largely absent from the WA and National K-12 curriculum, St Hilda’s is leading the way in introducing this program, incorporating entrepreneurialism, as part of each girl’s journey at St Hilda’s.

The reality of entrepreneurial education at St Hilda’s has previously been through external workshops, cocurricular activities and elective options that focus more on the mechanics of business. We believe that these alone cannot generate genuine transformative change.

We believe that a St Hilda’s education needs to go even further and ensure that our girls learn in a world that rewards the innovative. At a time of immense worldwide change, schools can either ignore the global shifts happening around them or increase their ability to adapt.

Aligned with the strategic goals of St Hilda’s Reimagined, we have chosen to adapt and chart our own course.

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for us to provide our girls with the skills required to ideate, analyse and communicate solutions to the problems they want to solve. The entrepreneurial mindset is one of the unsung heroes of the pandemic and economic recovery. Entrepreneurs have demonstrated resilience, determination and ingenuity to see and seek opportunities amongst the chaos.

St Hilda’s has always committed to a focus on STEAM. What we believe is missing is an entrepreneurial mindset through a sustainability lens. The introduction of ESSTEAM provides our girls with the opportunity to turn concepts into concrete solutions and ideas into actions. As educators, we know that experiences help fuel our girl’s drive to become lifelong learners and innovators. The deepest learning happens when their passions meet an opportunity for action.

Students today want a purpose for learning and opportunities to create value for others. This is what lies ahead for our girls through our ESSTEAM program.

Why now? We can’t expect to address systemic opportunity gaps through traditional, academic pedagogical approaches. We must be connecting students with real-world opportunities to develop their social capital that can extend beyond the networks they forge at St Hilda’s.

However, it’s important to note that we don’t need a whole generation of entrepreneurs, though we may find many amongst our girls. ESSTEAM is broader than that. The world needs young people who have an adaptive mindset and see feedback as fuel to get better. It needs young people that are confident communicators that can convey their thinking in a compelling way. It needs young people that can identify problems in front of them, and rather than stare apathetically at them until someone else solves them, can use creativity, innovation, and their initiative, to propose authentic solutions.

Ultimately, we believe that the next generation of young people need to be capable of thinking like an entrepreneur in their approach to learning and to life.

Our ESSTEAM program will be inspiring inventive and adaptive thinkers with a curiosity for learning and I look forward to its lasting impact on our girls.

Fiona Johnston