Pupils get to business for a better society

Pupils get to business for a better society
The Herald Scotland, by Stephen Naysmith


Pupils from schools across Scotland have been recognised for turning social concerns into businesses at a ceremony attended by deputy first minister John Swinney.


Glasgow schools made up almost half of those recognised at the Social Enterprise in Education Awards in Edinburgh.


They included St Albert’s Primary, which created a cafe where families and carers from different background can meet up and find common ground in a safe space, and St Mungo’s Academy which set up a social enterprise dedicated to supporting young carers in Glasgow.


More than 200 young social entrepreneurs from 32 schools across Scotland took part in the event to showcase their work.


Pupils had previously pitched their business ideas to a Dragon’s Den style forum in February, where 4 experienced social entrepreneurs and 150 pupils decided which should be backed.


Cafe Connect at St Albert’s serves a clear need in a local school where pupils come from a range of religious and cultural backgrounds. “We’re not an ordinary school,” pupils said, “In our class alone 66% of us have a parent or guardian who knows just a little to no English.


"There are so many different nationalities, cultures and faiths that it was important to have a space for people, like our parents, neighbours and visitors, to come together and get to know each other.”


Other schools have tackled issues including mental health, cultural diversity and advocacy for children’s rights.


“I had always wanted to help people, and to make a difference in my community. Setting up a social enterprise made me proud of myself and the group I was working in,” said Conor Pritchard, one of the pupils behind SMART at St. Mungo’s Academy, a social enterprise dedicated to support young carers in Glasgow. “It will give you a sense of fulfilment that’ll follow you until the end of your days."


The awards were part of a programme run by Social Enterprise Academy in partnership with Scottish Government.


Neil McLean, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise Academy said, “We’re not just seeing Scotland’s young people develop key entrepreneurial and employability skills, we’re seeing an empowered movement of young social entrepreneurs championing social issues that really matter to them. It’s fantastic to recognise and celebrate their achievements with them at the Awards.”