Seven teams of school pupils in Renfrewshire faced a panel of ‘dragons’ in a bid to win financial backing for each of their school’s social enterprise projects.
Projects including a mobile beauty service, a wormery to help break down rubbish into compost, a project to clean up a local forest, a service supplying affordable school uniforms, a nail bar, a school newspaper and a Fairtrade Cafe were all successful in the Schools’ Dragons’ Den Event.
The event, organised by Renfrewshire Council, was open to all Renfrewshire schools with the aim of giving young people practical experience in social enterprise and financial education.
Councillor Lorraine Cameron, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board, said: “The Dragons’ Den project is a fantastic way to get young people thinking about finances and how to run a viable business. It’s also a great opportunity for teamwork and giving back to their local communities. It’s wonderful to see the range of different ideas presented by the winners and the level of thought they’ve put into their business plans. I’d like to congratulate all of them on their success and look forward to hearing how their businesses are getting on in future.”
All entrants had to submit a business plan which identified how much funding their project would need to make their business sustainable. A key element was also to focus on social enterprise that would in some way give back to the community.
A shortlist of seven finalists were selected to go up in front of the panel to present their ideas and take questions on the viability and the social enterprise aspect of their idea.
On the night, held at Reid Kerr College, all seven projects impressed the judges enough to secure funding.
The five ‘dragons’ were Social Entrepreneur Jay Lamb, Jim Lally from Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), Audrey Cumberford, vice principal of Reid Kerr College, Linda Wilson from Clydesdale Bank and Alison Dowling from Renfrewshire Credit Union.
The seven winning projects were:
Mary Russell School,
Project title: Vermi Good
Vermi-composting is the process of using earthworms to break down kitchen and garden waste materials into quality, nutrient-rich compost and concentrated liquid feed. This project will provide the pupil ‘gardeners’ with compost and liquid fertiliser for their flower and vegetable gardens, potted plants and potato barrels.
It will support the school’s eco status and will encourage pupils and staff to be responsible for appropriate disposing of their rubbish. It will help the pupils develop an interest in their local environment by recycling rubbish, care for the environment, lower their carbon footprint.
Our Lady of Peace Primary School
Project title: Ecoforms
The school plan to open a shop selling recycled uniforms as a practical way for pupils to see how they can reduce their carbon footprint by re-using items of clothing which are still in good condition. It will be set up and run by pupils, giving them real business experience and the opportunity to learn about teamwork, good communications, coping with problems.
Paisley Grammar School
Project title: Bringing Glamour to the Grammar
Pupils who have completed a City and Guilds Beauty course have already raised money for charity by offering a nail-painting and hand massage service to staff. They plan to establish a full nail and beauty bar in the school to open the service up to staff and pupils raising regular funds for charity. They would also use funds raised to offer a free mobile treatment service to residents of a nearby care home. The care home manager has welcomed the proposal.
Project title: Fantastic Forests
The school plans to further develop partnerships it has with the rangers, community wardens and Forestry Commision to clean up the wood which surrounds the school. The aim being that the woods can be used by the local community. This would also help develop children’s interest in local wildlife, and actively involve children in improving their local area, and attract the public to the woods.
Bushes Primary School
Project title: Sparkles Nail Salon
The school plans to run a weekly nail salon service which sees pupils convert the maths bay in the school into a nail bar. The business runs every Friday and the service is available to staff and pupils. A large part of the profits go to charity. The project is part of the school’s leadership and active learning. The P7 girls who run the nail bar will create a training manual and work with a team of P6 children to carry on the nail bar when they go to secondary school.
Bushes Primary will be presented with a 2010 Social Enterprise School Award by Finance Secretary John Swinney at a ceremony in Glasgow this month.
St Fillan’s Primary
Project Title: Fairtrade Cafe
The business plan involves setting up a Fairtrade cafe which would use the profits it makes to sustaining the service. They would also implement four enterprise drives each year to increase their profit margin. The profits would be divided between four charities: sponsoring a guide dog, supporting businesses in the third world, the school fund for developing ICT in the school and SCIAF which helps children in Africa.
Trinity High School
Project Title: School Magazine
The aim is to develop the success of the existing school magazine called The Trinity Times by expanding readership and making it more attractive and colourful to readers. The team want to produce a colour version of the magazine in response to complaints from readers about it being only in black and white. The magazine celebrates the many achievement of pupils, staff and parents in particular on issues affecting the wider community.
The magazine has been nominated for Best Feature Article and Best Commercial Strategy in the Scottish Schools Magazine Competition.