Having been shortlisted for the TES Community and Collaboration Award, we ask what makes Ballot Street Spice, the only school-based social enterprise to be nominated, so special?

It’s all about parents, children and teachers working together, creating a REAL focus and there is nothing like running a business to make it real! Real products, real customers, real employees – real decisions that need to be taken and real money that needs to be made!

Then connect it to something special and unique about your community – our community in Smethwick in the West Midlands is diverse so we created a way to bring people together, spices were something we all had in common and food is great to share.

Finally, remember you are selling a story not just a product. People want to help and like to be involved in a great idea so tell them what you are doing and get them involved.

Schools are perfectly placed to run community businesses and support enterprising people to change the things that matter to them.

Real Maths Interventions

We know that learning is at its most powerful when it’s for real. Using our own school-based social enterprise to create real learning challenges has been hugely successful. We have applied to the Education Endowment Fund so we can prove the power and impact of Ballot Street Spice based maths interventions when it comes to closing the gap.

Community Cohesion

As our young Spice Ambassadors say, “we want to teach people how to be friends”. As a school where 47 languages are spoken we have found the ways to bring tolerance, understand and acceptance of difference, but we wanted to share that in our wider community where these values can be in short supply.

Bringing people together by offering what they want and need – it could be a translation service or a recipe swap – helps us all see what we have in common. From this starting point we galvanised the community spirt by building a social enterprise to provide job opportunities for parents and incredible learning experiences for children.

Creating an Enterprising Culture

As demonstrated by Ballot Street Spice’s recent nomination for a TES Community and Collaboration Award, schools are perfectly placed to support and grow community enterprises.

We often hear about young generations needing to be more entrepreneurial, so creating a climate in our schools where real, purpose driven businesses are grown sets a great example and provides invaluable learning. At the same time using school facilities, communication channels and reputations to support community business means challenges faced by local people can be tackled in innovative new ways.

As society, our education system and businesses evolve, the demand to find new ways for them to work together to prepare our young people for their futures only gets more important. Ballot Street Spice, born of the partnership between RIO CIC and Victoria Park Primary Academy forges new ground in creating shared value for all involved.

You can read about our nomination here.