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Awarding funds thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery
  • Total Amount Awarded: £321,828
  • Two Programmes Funded

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School for Social Entrepreneurs

School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) is a charity that supports people using entrepreneurial approaches to tackle complex social problems. They are committed to developing a thriving voluntary and community sector by delivering their innovative ‘learning by doing’ based programmes that combine personal and project development. Their courses aim to develop the capacity of organisations, whilst helping individuals start, sustain and scale social enterprises. School for Social Entrepreneurs support leaders of social change nationally through their network of nine schools, so they are better equipped to establish, sustain and grow organisations that create positive change for people and communities.

SSE offers capacity building learning programmes aimed at those starting, sustaining or scaling a social enterprise. Their learning programmes focus on a cohort of up to 20 individuals, where participants learn from, share, and challenge each other.

Funding from the Postcode Innovation Trust allowed SSE to expand their sector themes programmes nationally to support 45 organisations with programmes in the following new areas: 

  1. Health and Wellbeing

  2. Training and Employability (specifically with social enterprises that aim to employ hard to reach individuals)

  3. Environment and Conservation

Participants took part action learning days and action learning sets, consisting of peer support and learning, witness sessions, expert talks and project visits that were delivered in five learning blocks:

  • Learning block one focused on the topic of leadership
  • Learning block two focused giving an overview of different approaches to scaling an organisation
  • Learning block three focused on the topic of ‘Back to you’, looking at how social entrepreneurs can make time for self-care, given the busy and often stressful lifestyle they lead
  • Learning block four involved several different visits to social enterprises
  • Learning block five focused on developing diverse income streams

The second year of this programme will provide ongoing support for year 1 programme participants, and in addition to the topics previously covered, will provide COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Focused Learning, supporting organisations working in the following areas:

  • Employability and Training
  • Environment and Conservation

Learning will take place online, and will include topics such as:

  • Employability in the new world
  • Resilience during a crisis
  • Moving to a digital delivery model
  • Product innovation
  • Cash-flow management. 


Case Study - The Garden Classroom

The Garden Classroom provides urban children and adults with outdoor experiences that stimulate respect for nature and promote active lifestyles and self-discovery. Its co-founder Marnie participated in SSE's Scale+Accelerate Programme, as part of the Environment & Conservation cohort.

Marnie created The Garden Classroom as a new social enterprise in 2008, with founder-trustee Rosey Lyall. Since then, The Garden Classroom has become a multi-award winning charity. It plays a key part in the movement to encourage city children and young people to spend more time immersing themselves in nature. HRH the Duchess of Cambridge visited in 2019, and its patron is Joe Swift from BBC Gardener’s World.

Through the programme, Marnie joined like-minded people who shared a passion for helping the environment and people’s attitudes towards it. Marnie says, “Everything we are discussing is relevant to everyone else as we fall under an overarching type of work”.

With a new intake of inspiring trustees in 2019, The Garden Classroom has embarked on an ambitious programme of nature-inspired activities across a wide range of programmes. Its residential camping programme will see disadvantaged children and young people take to the countryside and the coast over a 9-week period.

The charity’s Little Explorers programme, for children under five, has also expanded this year to a second site. Marnie says, “This nature drop-in for toddlers and their parents and carers has been very popular and we have plans to expand this further afield in future years.” Other exciting new endeavours for The Garden Classroom include a programme called Urban Forest Schools, which benefits a range of inner-city children, and a programme to help London teachers instill a love for the natural world in the young children they teach, catering for whole classes.

Charity contact


The Fire Station
139 Tooley Street

Read more about School for Social Entrepreneurs