Case Studies

BRO Enterprise

BRO Enterprise

Name of School/Project

Bro Enterprise

What is your role?

  1. Pauline Cumming - Depute Head

Key Facts

BRO Enterprise is Broughton High School’s social enterpise which works to tackle social isolation in the local community in a number of ways.

Upon its formation, the project was a series of workshops run on Friday afternoons focusing on arts and crafts alongside Book Bairns, a reading group for young children which was planned and led by Broughton High School students for the benefit of the local community. Their aim was to spend time together through intergenerational activities.

Another aspect where Broughton High School has supported the development of BRO Enterprises is through the creation of the school garden. What was previously unused tarmac is now an ‘oasis’ of planting, vegetables and trees. There is a fruit orchard and benches that can be used by pupils at breaktimes, in addition to this, their outdoor classroom is utilised by teaching staff with their curriculum having been developed to make the best use of this space; SQA Rural Skills is offered to S3 and S4, whilst SQA Leadership courses and the Duke of Edinburgh Award provide opportunities for other students to volunteer and get involved in learning and working outdoors.

A collaboration between Depute Head Pauline Cumming and a group of parents saw the formation of Broughton Works, monthly breakfast sessions that provided students with the opportunity to develop awareness of a range of careers and the development of a – now annual – careers fair. Professionals from a variety of industries came together to share their career journeys and inspire learners through broadened horizons, increased awareness of opportunities and providing an environment to allow pupils to feel aspirational about their futures.

How did the Project develop?

By 2018 the project had expanded into a weekly café in the school’s Hub. Students would make soup, salads and cakes, whilst students from the City of Edinburgh Music School would join in and perform a weekly free concert for visitors. Partnerships were developed with organisations like Murrayfield Table Tennis who hosted multigenerational workshops. A partnership with Cyrenians enabled the school to access low cost and surplus food which in turn inspired their weekly menu. Elderly residents from a local sheltered housing accommodation were regular and enthusiastic visitors. During these weekly sessions, elderly residents were able to interact with the students running the café along with younger pupils – all profits were diverted towards the goal of tackling social isolation and have funded multiple projects detailed below.

Utilising Pupil Equity Funding (PEF), the school was able to appoint a part-time gardener and Chocolatier to work closely with the school’s most vulnerable students in developing employability skills, but also supporting BRO Enterprise projects. Some of the work they’ve done together includes creating and selling a range of garden-inspired soaps and balms, designing and planting herbs in the school garden to be used in teas and also creating their own brand of chocolate called Bromacocoa with a real focus on quality and sustainability.

Pre-pandemic the social enterprise prepared and sold food grown in the school garden and handmade chocolate, soaps and lip balms.

Due to the pandemic, these activities were forced to stop – however due to the isolation being felt by all, BRO Enterprise found their work more needed than ever before. One way in which the social enterprise continued to make a difference was through their BRO Virtual Coffee Table; a pen pal scheme which saw students paired up with residents at a local sheltered housing who has previously been regular customers at their cafes.

The school garden was able to be utilised throughout the pandemic as it was used as a community BroBooks Bank. Pupils could donate books they no longer needed or wanted, and take home good condition second-hand books, DVDs and study guides. They could then keep these, or exchange for others the following week.

When school resumed after the first lock-down, after-school activities and extra-curricular projects were not able to run. Bro-Enterprise, however, was successful in creating new projects to tackle social isolation. Pauline met with her team of BRO Volunteers online and encouraged them to come up with ideas for projects.

Project 1: The Moodbooster Pack is a set of wellbeing treats made and funded by BRO Enterprise and sent to students who were self-isolating and unable to come into school. Students designed the packs and chose the items to go into the boxes: handmade soap, and body balm, lavender bags (made by 89 year-old Dorothy from Carlyle Court who made over 100) chocolate, detox tea, inspirational/motivational cards and a postcard from the parent council.

Project 2: Hot Chocolate Thursdays was another idea from the BRO-Volunteer group. The volunteers served hot chocolate in the garden over winter as a way to lift spirits and provide some good cheer. The hot chocolate was free to everyone who brought their own mug, although paper cups could also be purchased.

Project 3: A wonderful Pen-pal scheme called the Virtual coffee Table was set up in the first Lockdown. It was written about sensitively in the Evening News/Scotsman newspaper, you can actually read the article here

The aim to tackle social isolation and loneliness was more important than ever, not just for our elderly friends, but for the young people too. BRO Volunteers, present and past, wrote to the residents of Carlyle Court. Some beautiful exchanges took place over the months, with one pair of Pen-Pals still writing regularly at least once a week.

What did pupils gain from taking part in the project? How effective was the project?

BRO Enterprise was first designed as a social café, but the enterprise has expanded and developed over its four years. It has become integral to the curriculum and to the volunteering opportunities available to all students across the school. It has embraced a range of enterprising and creative projects involving growing and making food, designing and developing of products (soaps, balms, chocolates, cakes) and advertising and selling products and services. At its heart is the aim to bring people together to tackle social isolation and loneliness. The enterprise uses the strap line “Together good things happen”.

Young people are developing awareness of social justice, and qualities such as kindness, patience, self-confidence, empathy and listening. They are developing a huge range of employability skills such as leadership, creativity, enterprise, team working and collaboration, customer service, reliability and problem solving. We have had over one hundred students involved in the enterprise since it started.

BRO Enterprise has won numerous awards from the Social Enterprise Academy, including the Yvonne Strachan award for Social Justice. Broughton students presented at the Social Enterprise World Forum event in Edinburgh in 2018, an event attended by nearly 1,000 global participants. BRO Enterprise Volunteers shared their story and talked about the skills they were developing as individuals. Their presentation was very well received.

Is the project sustainable? How do you see it developing in the future?

Broughton High School are offering the SQA qualification, NPA in Customer Services. Students who are part of the enterprise will have the opportunity to gain a level 4, 5 or 6 qualification in customer service. Whilst continuing to develop and deliver the aims of BRO Enterprise, students will undertake three units: communication skills for customer service social media for customer service and product and service requirements for customer service. The enterprise will continue to develop and grow, by taking on and developing students’ ideas about tackling social isolation, growing and making food and developing new products.

The social enterprise is currently being re-imagined. 30 students from S1-S3 have signed up for our BRO-Bakers after school sessions. Here they are gaining a little experience with patisserie and chocolate work with a view to becoming the next wave of BRO-volunteers.

Did you incur any costs?

Staffing costs for a part-time gardener and café-manager/chocolatier have been funded through the Pupil Equity Fund. The school is committed to continuing these roles once PEF funds cease. All materials and resources for the enterprise products are paid for by income from the enterprise itself.

Did you get other organisations/partners involved?

Parents at the school have been involved with Broughton Works and the Careers Fair, and have forged links with many local businesses who have voluntarily given up their time to come into school or connect online for BRO Breakfasts and Career chats. Unfortunately lockdown intervened before local community businesses could attend our Meet the School: Business Community Breakfast when pupils were going to present a tour of the garden and promote BRO Enterprise.

Pauline Cumming is line manager to Jo and Nadia. Jo Clarke is employed as a part-time pupil Support officer for Outdoor Learning. Her role is to develop the school grounds, liaise with the BRO Enterprise team and Volunteers and to support staff develop Outdoor Learning skills and confidence. Jo ensures that the garden produces crops and plants to inspire product development and resource the BRO Café kitchen.

Nadia Williams is employed as a part-time pupil Support officer for Employability. Her role is to develop the school social enterprise by providing opportunities for skill development. She works with a range of students on hospitality and customer service experiences including chocolate work and patisserie, and soaps and balms. In addition, she manages a team of volunteers who run the Friday café. A partnership with the Cyrenians enables the school to access low cost and surplus food supplies.

Do you have any advice for practitioners thinking about organising something similar?

”Create space and time for thinking and planning. Include students and spend time imagining a possible business. Ask students what’s important to them. What can they do to make a difference? You will be amazed at the ideas that come back! Have a committed group of enthusiastic staff to support.

At BRO-Enterprise, we started with two staff but this was later increased to three. Be flexible and always have fun especially if you plan to run projects after school hours when students might be tired or just needing a change of environment. We do need to find that joy in schools again.” Pauline Cumming

Contact details

Pauline Cumming

01313 327805


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