Christian schools can teach you how to start a business

High schoolers will learn how to be entrepreneurs in a new venture by Australia’s largest Pentecostal college, Alphacrucis (AC).

Businesses in the Hunter region of NSW, along with St Philip’s Christian College in the same area, will join with AC to produce a school-based entrepreneurship and work experience program. Students in Years 11 and 12 will join a stream offering a Diploma of Business.

“Entrepreneurship is embedded in the way of life for people in the country,” said Geoff Walker, a local radio presenter, businessman and Cessnock Citizen of the Year. “The skills in this program will give entrepreneurs the skills they actually need to survive and thrive in business.”

Student Lachlan Coble, an aspiring entrepreneur and former St Philip’s Christian College student, said “Entrepreneurship is so much more than setting up a business venture – it is a driver for positive social change. As a young person, I would have loved the opportunity to engage in the area of entrepreneurship earlier in school, and receive guidance on turning ideas from mind into matter.”

Darren Cox, Principal of St Philip’s Christian College Cessnock tells Eternity that the program allows students to learn to manage personal work priorities, evaluate marketing opportunities, create digital marketing plans, manage budgets, and build and sustain an innovative work environment.

“These skill sets are then translated into real-world businesses, typically in corporate and product branding, marketing, consulting, IT systems, health services, public relations, and manufacturing,” Cox said.

“Students are able to take skill sets that may be considered hobbies and re-condition them into thriving business opportunities. For example, we have students at St Philip’s Christian College Cessnock who are exceptional at woodwork, and this skill can translate well into an entrepreneurship opportunity. During their vocational partnerships, students will be coached in how to see these business ideas come to fruition – everything from finding that big idea, to creating a killer pitch deck to present to investors.”

Cox added that students who are gifted in the arts may discover opportunities in the program to create a graphic design business, or app design.

“It’s about harnessing and utilising skill sets that are already there into business opportunities that may otherwise go amiss without the diploma and its step-by-step set up structure.”

Joining with schools to train teachers locally has taken off for Alphacrucis College with the launch of  Teaching Schools Alliance Sydney (TSAS), which links AC as a tertiary provider with several big-name independent schools. Its main point of difference is that trainee teachers will be working in the schools with students for their entire tertiary education.

Significantly, St Philip’s Christian College was the site for the test program of school-based teacher training.

The “hub approach” could give Christian schools massive leverage and lift their profile in the local community

The new entrepreneurship program and TSAS are part of a plan to give Christian schools, especially country ones, access to Alphacrucis’ deep and rich tertiary education resources, Mark Hutchinson, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Arts, Social sciences and Education, tells Eternity.

“Most secondary schools, for example, cannot do their own accreditation, run programs outside the K-12 curriculum, or hire staff who are equipped to be able to do any of those things. With a close partnership between a tertiary and a secondary provider, however, many things become possible, particularly for rural, remote, and regional (RRR) towns in which the church is an extremely important institution.”

The “hub approach” could give Christian schools massive leverage and lift their profile in the local community.

“Essentially, we can run sustainable programs from Certificate level all the way up to PhD, in multiple disciplines, in any locality, if the school is in a large enough network,” said Hutchinson.

“It provides Christian schools with a marked advantage over the other schools in the area, because they can run classes out of hours, use their buildings more profitably, and provide a range of options which other schools cannot without sending their students off to the local TAFE (which has associated duty of care and identity issues).”

AC does not claim that all these ideas are new. Versions are being tried out in other parts of the world. But what it is doing is putting these ideas together for the first time in a “strategically coherent” way.

Eternity understands that AC is investigating a third role out of the “hub” approach interstate.