The innovative Social Enterprise Qualification (SEQ) is celebrating its second birthday this month, with a string of achievements.
Developed by the Real Ideas Organisation in partnership with SFEDI awards, it was first piloted in 2010 in the UK, China and Uganda, before its official launch at the House of Commons in February 2012.
Since then, it has seen 518 learners embark on the qualification and 390 mentors from various educational and training settings have been trained to deliver it. The SEQ is the first qualification of its kind in the world to accredit social enterprise learning at QCF levels 1 and 2.
The international qualification is recognised as a valid qualification on the Qualifications and Credit Framework, but its significance has also been recognised at various awards ceremonies. Amber Webster, an SEQ learner from Aster Housing Association in Wiltshire, was Highly Commended for an Enterprising Learner award at the National SFEDI awards, for the first awarded Gold SEQ project. Amber’s SEQ project involved the creation of a unique mobile phone application called Jargo, which translates from English to Polish to help Aster Group communicate more effectively with its largely foreign customer base. Amber’s mobile phone app demonstrated real consideration for a social issue.
The SEQ uses ethical business skills to solve a social or environmental problem in a community through running a one-off or ongoing social enterprise activity. Ecovation started as a Silver SEQ project in which 25 young people from Plymouth College, including Olympic diver Tom Daley, designed an Eco-feeder made from recycled wood, feeding birds with leftover foods and thus tackling food waste. They sold 400 eco-feeders and made an impressive £4000 in revenue. They were also awarded Young People’s Social Enterprise of the Year for England. London MP Vince Cable was one proud recipient of the social enterprise product.
More recently, Bournemouth’s Avonbourne College SEQ students recently sold wristbands to raise money for a paediatric unit at their local hospital. With a start-up loan from the Peter Jones Foundation, they were able to design and produce wristbands, the sales of which made a profit of £4375. The project won a ‘Diana Award’ which was presented by Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace.
Since its launch, a top school in Uganda has also embraced the qualification as part of its school curriculum, and has developed excellent relationships with Westlands School in Torquay, where they are embarking on a joint social enterprise project looking at producing, marketing and selling Ugandan-inspired jewellery. SEQ is also now being delivered in China’s top performing school, which was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, through a partnership with the Foundation for Youth Social Enterprise.
Paula Winzar, SEQ Lead Developer, said of the qualification and the difference it is making; “It’s very exciting to see learners tackling social and environmental issues by developing real, new products and services. These young people are the innovators of our future and so equipping them with environmentally and socially sustainable enterprise skills is vital, as well as giving them the confidence to make positive change to their world.”
The SEQ has collected many achievements since its launch, and an even brighter future lies ahead, with an Aston Villa Football Club partnership already underway and exciting conversations taking place around strategic partnerships with Aster Housing and Cornwall Council.
Social enterprises are businesses set up to tackle a social or environmental need. Great examples are Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant, The Big Issue and the Eden Project. SEQ is a progression ladder of UK qualifications which encourage and accredit people interested in making positive change; for themselves, society and the environment. SEQ students set up enterprises to address a social or environmental issue, linking to and making change in their communities or beyond. The SEQ progression ladder is a set of vocational qualifications on the QCF that grow social entrepreneurs.
The SEQ is available at Bronze, Silver and Gold which are a Level 1 award, Level 2 award and Level 2 certificate respectively on the Qualifications and Credit Framework.
The Social Enterprise Qualification is suitable for a wide range of learners and settings.
For more information please visit seq.realideas.org or call 08458 621288.