Thursday, 26 November 2009

Anything but board

Education is very much in the air for social enterprise. I picked up Red Mummy's blog last night thanks to a tip off from Stephen Fry's Tweet which chimed with the things I've been saying about schools. Parents of children in many secondary schools up and down the country are really not happy and they want things to improve. The blog is facinating and echoed  a number of conversations I have had lately.

This morning I met with officers from Lambeth Council and Sarah Neuff from the fantastic development trust, Coin Street Community Builders to launch a really exciting initiative designed to develop social enterprise in the borough. I think Lambeth is really showing its dynamic commitment to social enterprise and I look forward to working on a project which I'm sure will establish the borough's credentials for innovation.

Interestingly Lambeth is the only place in the UK that has succeeded in establishing a parent run school, something I discovered when meeting with Paul Mason from Parent Promoted Foundation this morning.  Paul is leading the monumental struggle of Barnes, Mortlake and East Sheen parents, trying to establish a school in the area that meets children's needs.  The thing I like best about this movement of ours is meeting people like Paul who are real social innovators, fighting to create a world I for one, want to live in.  Parents should be able to run schools, certainly where local authorities have failed; they couldn't do a worse job. In fact, I think they could do an excellent one. Paul told me the Foundation have the backing of 2000 local parents, impressive. He and I worked over possible models, related initiaitives and where social enterprise fitsin - all good stuff. 

I think this growing development in education (exemplified by the work CfBT commisioned SEL to do on social enterprises delivering extended services in schools) is unstoppable. Clearly the existing system needs an injection of responsibility, commitment and enthusiasm.  All qualities you get in spades from people like Paul, working to improve the community for people like me and my family. watch this space for our up and coming conference on this.

This afternoon my lovely board met.  The SEL Board is a meeting place for many of the UK's leading social entrepreneurs, chaired ably today by Sophi Tranchell MD of Divine Chocolate.  During the discussions we learnt from Carmel McConnell of Magic Breakfast about a great deal they've done with Quaker Oats whose packaging now carries a 5p per pack funding commitment to Magic Breakfast, Carmel's social enterprise that currently feeds over 3000 children a day who arrive at London schools too hungry to learn. So go out and buy Quaker Oats people!

Off to a reception for Southwark Leaders now, no rest for the wicked.

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