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A pledge for all ages

March 15, 2018

The University of Edinburgh shows how it has made progress towards achieving its 2016/17 Social Impact Pledge, which included commitments to  children, students and older people.

University of Edinburgh logo

Progress in implementing social impact pledges made in 2016/17

Commitment 1: Edinburgh University students will work with families of primary school children across the City encouraging them to include easy and fun reading, writing and counting activities in their everyday lives, as a means of enhancing pupil literacy and numeracy’.

We delivered this commitment through the implementation of ‘Moray House: Read, Write, and Count’. This project (led by Dr Gale Macleod) aimed to enhance parental engagement with children’s learning, a core objective being to raise attainment amongst primary school pupils. Students on the Postgraduate Diploma in Education programme at the Moray House School of Education worked with families of P1, P2 and P3 pupils across Edinburgh Schools, to promote engagement with literacy and numeracy, encouraging families and parents to include easy and fun reading, writing and counting activities in their everyday lives. The project was developed in partnership with the Scottish Book Trust (who provided pupils with a free bag of books, counting games and writing materials) and Edinburgh City’s Family Learning Team (who provided expertise, training and ongoing support to students). It was evaluated by B.Ed. (Education) students as part of their final year research projects and the results are now being used to inform evolving best practice in family-schools engagement.  A half-day seminar was held on 5th June 2017 to feedback results from the research to key stakeholders including Edinburgh City schools, life-long learning and psychological services.

‘It is inspiring to work with the University of Edinburgh and to link theory with practice. It has enabled all involved to explore different ways in which to develop our experience and understanding of meaningful partnership with parents.’ 

Mhairi McNeill, Communities and Families, City of Edinburgh Council

Commitment 2: ‘We will increase the number of student social enterprise start-ups and provide the infrastructure to ensure their sustainability over the longer term’. 

This commitment has been delivered through the implementation of the new ‘Social Enterprise Pathways Programme’ over the academic session 2016/17.  The programme was developed by the Assistant Principal Social Impact Pledge logoCommunity Relations and the Director of Finance in consultation with key stakeholders across the University including student leaders, Launch.Ed, and members of the Business School.  It comprised:

  • A taster seminar/workshop series to raise awareness of social entrepreneurialism amongst students in the University;
  • The development of a bespoke course in social entrepreneurship (led by Dr Winston Kwon, Chancellor’s Fellow, Business School) open to all students across the University, and a managed portfolio of elective courses focusing on business acumen, leadership, innovation, resilience and risk management, as well as communication and community engagement;
  • A fund to support student social enterprise start-ups and new projects developed by existing student social enterprises, with students pitching for small grants to a panel of experts. 

The overall aim of the programme was to provide students with the requisite skills and support to produce step-change in the number of new student-led locally-based social enterprises and to enhance the sustainability of existing social enterprises over the longer term.

In 2016/17, seminars/workshops included:

  • ‘Exploring Social Enterprise’: Social Responsibility and Sustainability Student Forum in collaboration with Edinburgh Social Enterprise and the Charteris Community Centre, 25th November 2016
  • ‘Design for well-being’: Festival of Creative Learning, multi-disciplinary design challenge involving students and staff, exploring whether the 19th century concept of a model village could be updated to provide a framework for community building and social enterprise in two contexts: a new-build in Edinburgh City; and a post-conflict living environment for displaced peoples in the South Sudan. Led Prof. Lesley McAra, Assistant Principal Community Relations, 20th February 2017
  • #makeyourmark was a two-day challenge involving undergraduates across schools matching profit with purpose, with the support of inspiring business leaders and bright minds from the University.
  • ‘Getting your Hands Dirty: How Social Enterprise can make a difference’: Visions for Change Lecture by Dr Winston Kwon, 21st March 2017
  • Social Enterprise Showcase: Edinburgh University Students’ Association in collaboration with Edinburgh Social Enterprise and the Charteris Community Centre, 11th May 2017

A  Dragon’s Den was held on 28th November 2016 and 8 student social enterprises were awarded grants totalling £5,500.  These included:

  • ETC a partnership between IKEA and ECA fashion students utilising waste textiles to make garments.
  • Dimple’s Cooking Classes: partnership with local farms and restaurants to reduce food wastage and produce nutritious meals for dispersal to homeless people.
  • ECO-SET – builds on Project Elpis (creation of solar hubs in refugee camps), proof of concept initiative involving  programming and piloting of a Raspberry Pi computer, preinstalled with educational content and legal information, which migrants can access through their mobile phones.

Commitment 3: ‘We will increase the number of student digital ambassadors to support digital literacy and participation amongst older people in the community.’

The commitment was achieved through the expansion of the Student Digital Ambassadors Project which was successfully piloted in the Spring and early Summer of 2016.  This project was instituted and led by the Professor Lesley McAra (Assistant Principal Community Relations) and Amy Woodgate (MOOC Project Manager), and managed by Dr Ben Fletcher-Watson (Student Community Engagement Development Officer). The pilot programme ran in collaboration with the University’s WEEE Recycling programme (via WarpIT Equipment Exchange, who provided i-pads), and in discussion with Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations whose Scotland-wide Digital Participation programme ran in parallel.

As part of the programme, students were trained to support older people to use computers and touchscreens when they encountered them in their daily lives, such as at GP surgeries and supermarket check-outs. The students then put their training into practice by working at the Charteris Community Centre, to support eight participants (aged between 70 and 87) to develop basic digital skills.  The evaluation of the pilot found that self-efficacy increased across all basic digital skills for all participants, with users feeling most confident using Google, email and online tutorials / MOOCs.  The social impact pledge for 2016/17, committed us to recruiting a further 20 student ambassadors and to work with Edinburgh City libraries to support their on-going digital literacy programme.

We now have 53 registered student ambassadors and the programme has expanded to include: reruns of the Charteris Community Centre project for older people (a six week course); and a weekly drop in session at the Edinburgh Central Library, being run throughout the year (33 advice consultations have taken place so far, mostly with citizens aged 50+).   

View The University of Edinburgh's current pledge

Click here to see more Social Impact Pledge case studies.

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