West Lothian Dragons Den

We recently met with Mary O’Driscoll (Education Marketing & Communications Officer) from the Social Enterprise Academy Schools program to talk about the upcoming Dragons Den event in West Lothian.

The Dragons Den event is part of the innovative Social Enterprise Schools program in partnership with the Scottish Government. It empowers young people to not only realise their own potential but to understand the power they have to create change through their efforts. 

Education does not change the world. Education changes people. People change the world.”

(Paulo Freire) 

The program supports students to design and bring to life their own social enterprise. Allowing the students to choose the cause that they want to support makes them think about the impact their project will have and creates momentum to not only bring the project to life but make it a success.

Our CEO, Douglas, believes that there is a need for the 'third and community sectors to become more resilient and entrepreneurial’, and what better way to do this than to introduce the concept of social enterprise and its benefits from a young age. Meaning that future generations will come to business development with a much broader understanding of how organisations can create a positive impact within their communities. 

Any school in Scotland can sign up to be a ‘Social Enterprise School’. The program can start at any time within the academic calendar, allowing for flexibility in an already busy school calendar for teachers. The Social Enterprise Academy staff will then support teachers through the process. The program is designed to be pupil-led so that students can build confidence as well as develop essential skills in time management, project management and business development that will not only make this project a success but help them as they move through their education. When a group enters the Dragons Den competition, they have the chance to win seed money for their project, allowing them to implement their ideas even faster. 

As part of the process, the school is provided with access to the program's learning platform, which allows teachers to set up professional development training sessions that will equip them for this process. It is where teachers and pupils can access all relevant resources, request workshop sessions with the Social Enterprise Academy staff and enter the Dragons Den competition. Schools can have one year group participating or multiple classes undertaking the learning program, allowing for some healthy competition.  

The team at Community Enterprise work with several educational projects across the country and get to see first-hand the power of education, both for young people and their communities. Teaching practical business skills in schools has proven that young people leaving school have strong transferable skills to enter the workforce. Diversifying their education to include social enterprises will have even wider ripple effects on the Scottish economy and society. 

Douglas will be taking part in the West Lothian event on Feb 28th as a Dragon, and we look forward to working more with the Social Enterprise Academy in 2023. Alongside the Schools program, they offer a wide range of professional development training, which you can check out here