iSE | Three USE-IT! Project Primary Schools Create Social Enterprise Start-ups

If you’ve been following the progress of our Social Enterprise in Schools project and recent blog posts, you might be interested in how individual schools in the USE-IT! UIA project area have progressed through the project.

Each school took a different approach in terms of the businesses they set up, but all focused very clearly on improving lives in their communities.

“Thank you for such a great project.  The teachers and pupils have learnt so much from it.  It has been a triumph.” Dr Helen Rudeforth, James Watt Primary School, Handsworth.

The schools we feature here are all in areas of high deprivation but the assets that the children clearly bring to their communities shone brightly – including their creativity, determination, social awareness and ability to learn the skills needed to be successful in social enterprise.  As our project learning reporter has recently commented, the children are future advocates for social enterprise, “they are an asset!”.

Here is what has been achieved by years 4 and 5 pupils in Winson Green, Handsworth and Smethwick:

Slime sales supporting people living on the streets

Oasis Foundry school in Winson Green hadn’t quite developed their idea enough at our last time of writing to give you a firm update of their plans.  But fast forward a few weeks and Winson Green has a new pupil-managed toy shop specialising in handmade slime.

Why slime? Because the children in year 4 and year 5 worked together to research their potential market.  Blue slime is what their peers told them they’d be most likely to buy and so blue slime is what they made! Low and behold, they sold out at the first sale and had to get back to the production line. Two toy shop openings later and a £250 profit had been generated.  

Some of the profit will go back into the business if the children and their teachers decide to continue it in the next academic year, but most of it will go towards creating care packages to support the well-being of people who are experiencing homelessness in Birmingham. The school are hoping to involve the children in handing out these packages themselves.

“I’m so proud!”

When the children were presented with their celebratory ‘I’m a social entrepreneur’ badge at the end of iSE’s involvement in the project, one of them excitedly exclaimed “I am so proud!” at the top of his voice. Mariam Yate of iSE said of her experience delivering at Oasis “they were so excited about their achievements, it was so lovely to see”.











From Cosmic Cafe to care packages for children in temporary housing

The children and James Watt School in Handsworth were determined to create ‘presents’ for their fellow pupils who do not have permanent housing.  There are many newly arrived children in the school in temporary accommodation while their parents await changes to their status, a difficult situation that affects physical and mental health.

  The wait can be long, and often families are housed in B&B’s, one family to a room with very few toys or learning materials and certainly no desks. And that’s where the care boxes come in. Pretty decorated boxes that can double up as little on-knee desks, packed with notebooks, pens, pencils and small gifts. 

So how did social enterprise enable the children to create these packages?  They set up a Cosmic Cafe – a healthy space-themed craft cafe. The children designed and sold beautifully crafted textile toys and jewellery at their meticulously planned cafe complete with galaxy tablecloths and planet decorations. 

They smashed their profit target and have sufficient funds to pay for nearly 40 care boxes. The cafe itself gave parents the opportunity to come together on the school premises, to meet each other and build their local social network. 

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Three ambitious businesses take off in Smethwick

The teachers of Shireland Hall Primary in Smethwick decided that one social enterprise wasn’t enough for them, they have set up three new starts! Our last blog gives a little more information about the reusable, school-branded water bottles they’ve produced, the mobile app to support children’s learning and parent’s English language learning at home, and the made-to-order personalised jewellery business.  All three have been a phenomenal amount of work but have been well integrated into classroom teaching. They have resulted in the children being able to financially support the local Deer’s Leap nature reserve where local schools and families can visit to experience green space and more active lifestyle, they have actively support their families for whom English is a second language, and they have provided donations to the Smethwick CAN Food Bank to help reduce food poverty locally.

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For more information about how the pilot worked, see our first blog feature


To hear more about individual schools, see our most recent article


To get in touch if you would be interested in financially supporting the future of this work, email:


To get in touch if you’re a parent or school teacher who’d like to find out about this project for your local school, please email: