What we did:
Many schools had to cease their social enterprise activities when lockdown came. Social Enterprise Academy's (SEA) education team created an opportunity for schools to win a Community Champions Award and to encourage children and young people to find safe and innovative ways to continue making a positive impact in their communities. Fifty-five schools in all were awarded for their wonderful work and a virtual awards ceremony was designed for them using Google Apps. Each school was issued with a code to enter a virtual room where they could listen to a message from John Swinney, a personalised message from their SEA tutor, receive their award, take a look around the virtual marketplace and view other schools activities.
Schools from across Scotland became involved, including pupils from primary schools in Uist and Barra who were among those using their skills and talents to write letters and draw pictures for the vulnerable and isolated members of their Gaelic community. One particular example was of a child writing a letter in Gaelic to a member of their community who found herself stranded in Australia. Unable to travel, she recounted how it brought great comfort to receive a letter from home, particularly in her mother tongue.
Who we involved:
The Awards were open to teachers, young people, parents, carers, supporters, community members and stakeholders, supported by The Scottish Government and sponsored by Kibble, Link Group, SAP and Big Issue Invest.
The difference it made:
Our Community Champions Award gave schools an opportunity to celebrate all the wonderful community benefit they provided during lockdown and to encourage children and young people, many of whom were feeling anxious and helpless, to find ways to make a positive difference in their communities, giving them a sense of value and purpose. Receiving the award, hearing a special message from the Deputy First Minister and a message too from their tutor, given in Gaelic when appropriate, offered the children and young people a personal sense of achievement, knowing the difference they had made to others was being celebrated.
What we will do differently in the future:
This helped us with a fresh understanding of the many ways in which social enterprise activity in schools is empowering children and young people to create solutions to problems that matter to them and how we might best continue to provide them with support during Covid-19 and beyond. It helped us to find innovative ways to celebrate young people who are making such positive impact in their local communities. It substantiated our understanding of the value of the Gaelic language within communities and we have plans to provide Gaelic speaking pupils with online workshops, new materials and an opportunity to win a Social Enterprise in Education award and funding to support their ongoing school social enterprise activities. As pupils continue to use their skills to make a difference to the isolated and elderly members within their communities the impact to the beneficiaries of the children's activities is ongoing as the young people’s skills for life, learning and work are developed.
Schools across Scotland are keen to help us develop new ways of delivering our support to pupils via Teams, Google Meet as well as outdoor learning and we have now successfully delivered our first sessions via e-Sgoil.