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School and Student Social Enterprise

I learned quickly that three months to carry out my Fulbright plans is not enough. Pair my limited remaining time with a week-long nasty cold and the result was missed appointments, interviews, and opportunities. One of the many appointments I had to cancel this week was to visit Broughton High School's Social Enterprise Cafe. In lieu of the visit, I learned as much as I could about their work and have compiled it here.

Broughton High School is an urban secondary school in the north of Edinburgh educating roughly 1,059 pupils. I learned about Broughton's Social Enterprise group when interviewing staff members about the place-based learning that is happening at the school. They were excited to share that students are not only working together through service-oriented learning but they are providing experiences for community involvement.

BRO Enterprise is a co-curricular student organization, social enterprise and cooperative which aims to look at ways to tackle social isolation and loneliness in the community by bringing people together to enjoy a cup of tea and a cake, and to have fun together through crafts and interactive reading activities The group curates Friday afternoon cafés and "bookbairnes" open to the public. Running on a monthly schedule, students offer

homemade/homegrown food and products based on a theme or topic. One such theme described to me included nature-inspired food and products utilizing plants grown in the school's garden. [Broughton's garden is also well-used within the curriculum by a large population of teachers. The school employs a part time gardener which helps to ensure the successful implentation of this learning tool.]

Through BRO enterprise, "Learners have real opportunities to become effective contributors and responsible, caring citizens who feel empowered to bring about change within their community. Students are developing skills for work and life in addition to building confidence and creativity. They plan and lead the interactive workshops, create the activities and resources and manage the running of the café. Already, we see that working closely with our community is helping to build a stronger and more caring society." - K. Mayer -

BRO Enterprise utilizes resources from Social Enterprise Academy, a society which combines economic activity with community benefit, led by dynamic, social entrepreneurs. This organization provides resources for all types of social enterprises, including those operating in schools, and was a great starting point to learn more about how social enterprise can be created by students. From their site:


A social enterprise is a dynamic business with a social purpose, it invests its profits for community benefit.

The sector includes co-operatives, credit unions, housing associations, development trusts, social firms and community businesses.

Social enterprises operate across a diverse range of areas including: fair trade, recycling, catering and hospitality, renewable energy, health, social care, leisure, community transport, housing and childcare.

There are currently over 5,600 Social Enterprises operating in Scotland, employing 81,357 full-time equivalent employees (Census 2017, Social Enterprise in Scotland).



School-based social enterprises have explicit social and/or environmental aims and their profits are used to help achieve these. These can either be local issues or issues linked to a community in another country.


They have a clear trading activity and are directly involved in producing goods or providing services to a market identified by the pupils.


They are driven and run by pupils with support from teachers and parents. Pupils should spread the awareness of their social enterprise across the school and the community.


School-based social enterprises aspire to make a positive and responsive change to peoples’ lives.

The most interesting resource are the many examples of how schools are creating social enterprises.

Our school, like so many are already using social enterprise methods (bravo to Sue Petrucci and her weekly community cafe among others) but I am inspired to think deeper about how these ideas can empower the rural high school art student to make change in his/her community.

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