Pupil outreach programme to move to autumn term as schools face lockdown


A community outreach programme designed to foster entrepreneurial and innovation skills among school- children will move to the autumn term due to the coronavirus crisis. Sopra Steria, one of the UK’s

leading digital transformation companies, is determined to carry on vital work with schools in some of Edinburgh’s most disda- vantaged communities. Te organisation, which has an

office in the capital, is working with six schools across the city in a bid to encourage business skills and creativity. Twenty-five volunteers had

been mentoring young people in secondary schools across the city, with a view to holding a Dragon’s Den-style finale at the council chambers on April 3. But the event – like so many

others – was cancelled due to the unprecedented lockdown caused by the spread of the global pan- demic, COVID-19. Jen Rodvold, Head of Digital

Ethics & Tech for Good at Sopra Steria, said: “In light of govern- ment advice, we have cancelled all school visits by our employees but we are working to reinstate the programme during the autumn term if possible. We have been working very closely through our Tech for Good programme with Micro-Tyco - a multi award- winning entrepreneurial training programme for schools, colleges, community groups, universities and organisations – in order to provide opportunities for young people to come up with creative ways of solving global problems. “Te programme is linked to

the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), so we invite the young people to respond to a challenge. Tey then have a month to create real life product or service that addresses one of the SDGs in their commu- nities, with the emphasis on not

School pupils who took part in last year’s UK-wide Tech for Good competition

only coming up with a solution but also on having an actual impact in their local area.”

The six schools each put forward a team to devise a business proposition and compete to be the winner in their regional area. Te winning team will then go through to a UK final to compete against schools from four different parts of the country. Tere are 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations as global challenges that all societies must address. Tey include ‘No poverty’, ‘Zero hunger’, ‘Good health and wellbeing’ and ‘Quality education’. Last year, Rodvold said one of the winning teams focused on the ‘Life below water’ SDG and came up with a way of reusing plastic bottles within their school to create greenhouses. She said: “It really was such

an innovative idea and a sustain- able way to reuse plastic and save it from possible pollution of our oceans. Instead of being thrown in the bin, the plastic was put to good use growing fruit and vegetables, and herb gardens, in a greenhouse. Our second winner was based around good health. One young boy thought about his grandfather


being left alone in a care home, and so the team came up with an idea of getting a disused school bus to pick up elderly people and bring them to the school once or twice a month in order to reduce social isolation. It was a really lovely cross-generational project increas- ing social interaction and stimula- tion through various activities such as playing board games.”

In total, Sopra Steria’s programme has a reach of over 1,000 school children across the UK, with 100 volunteers from the company providing mentorship. Te com- pany is working with five clients across the country, including the Scottish Government, for whom it provides digital transformation consultancy services. All volun- teers are trained in the Micro- Tyco entrepreneurial programme through the Glasgow-based WildHearts Foundation, whose Business for Good social model reinvests profits into projects in the developing world. When the successful teams are chosen for the national final, they are given video feedback by senior execu- tives from Sopra Steria’s executive committee and the WildHearts CEO and founder, Mick Jackson. Te Edinburgh regional stage

was due to feature the Deputy Director, Department Agriculture and Rural Economy at Te Scottish Government, Deputy Direc-

tor of Education at Te Scottish Government, the Digital Director at Young Scot and Sopra Steria’s own Margaret Moore, Government Director, Scotland. Moore said: “We very much aim

to continue this entrepreneurial training for the students, with volunteers aiming to get back into schools during the autumn term. We work very closely with our schools and based on the feedback we have received the decision was sadly taken to postpone the programme. Te Tech for Good schools competition has been an unqualified success since incep- tion, and we have used technol- ogy as a means of hosting events. Students have been able to record their pitches and dial into live streams with judges in order to get important feedback on their ideas and solutions. However, the prior- ity must now be to support our schools and be available to get the programme back up and running as soon as practically possible. So- pra Steria will put great energy into ensuring this happens when the government guidelines allow.” l

The six schools taking part are: Boroughmuir High School, Broughton High School, Firrhill High School, The Royal High School, Trinity Academy, Woodlands School.

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