In the third blog in our series covering the progress of the School Eco Refill Shops, all schools have launched and are committed to be open for business every month for their school communities.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is working with nine schools to introduce Eco Refill Shops to their school communities with the support of Pupils Profit, an ethical enterprise provider. The schools are located across the region and include two post-16 special schools and seven primary schools.

The ‘Refill’ message is a priority as GMCA and councils across the region join forces to ditch single-use plastics once and for all. In a bid to make Greater Manchester a leading refill destination, we are encouraging more public outlets, including shops and council spaces, to be part of a free public refill scheme, promoted on a mobile app which would enable more people to find out where they can refill in their locality.       By engaging young people in a hands-on way, the School Eco Refill Shop pilot aims to introduce and make refilling easy in communities without access to a refill shop. 

Each of the school refill shops is being managed by a pupil-led enterprise team, which includes job roles such as Finance, Marketing and Sales Managers, providing pupils with training and skills as if they were running a shop outside of school.  The training is a valuable aspect to the pilot and provides many benefits to the pupils’ skillset, including a growth in confidence and numerical understanding of profit and loss via their shop’s sales. 

Against a challenging and very busy Spring Term, nine schools have launched their shops and are committed to a monthly opening within their schools with some schools using additional outlets to sell their products. 

The Enterprise Teams are learning what works and what could do with changing, such as the location, day and time of the week and logistics such as the number of pupils managing the flow of customers.  Marketing tactics utilised across the schools include a playground mega-phone at pick-up time, colourful posters designed by the Enterprise Teams, local leaflet drops and product order forms being designed and sent home.

St Margaret Mary's Poster
St Margaret Mary’s Poster

Updates from schools

Urmston Primary, Trafford, are opening before school 8.30am-8.50am, which has been well received by parents and children (no clubs getting in the way!) They have held a bottle amnesty to collect in 500ml clean, used bottles to use in the shop, as during the last shop opening parents expected them to be available but they had actually run out!

Hamer Primary, Rochdale have recently had their Ofsted inspection, with their report making a special mention of the school’s eco refill shop.       

Hamer Primary School pupils
Hamer Primary School pupils

Woodhouses, Oldham, are running their shop in conjunction with other school events as they feel there are more people on-site then to sell to.

Woodbank Primary School, Bury, invited local media along to their Eco Express shop opening and were pleased to see their hard work featured in an article with the Bury Times.

Piper Hill, Manchester, have sold 27 refills in the last two weeks, providing this update: “The students have befriended a group of older adults with additional needs and their staff who visit the café and shop each week and are going to set up a book club with them at Stretford Mall where they can meet and all share books together. This is a result (in part) of the shop’ concept, being something that brought customers in and gave our students a reason to start conversations with the group and develop a connection together. In addition, we’ve had additional product requests from customers for dog shampoo and toilet cleaner.  A nice example of the wider impact of the shop on our student’s social confidence as well as their business enterprise skills. We’ve recorded Tamsin, Zakir, Sebby and Daniel from our Enterprise Team providing their feedback on how the Eco Refill Shop has boosted their confidence and social skills with their work on the shop.”

Feedback from Piper Hill Enterprise team members: Tamsin, Zakir, Sebby and Daniel

St Margaret Mary’s Primary School, Moston, have invited the Running Out of Time Relay to visit their school on Friday 14th June to highlight the wider issues of climate change with their pupils alongside their next shop opening.  The relay starts at Ben Nevis and runs to Brighton finishing in Parliament Square on 4th July covering an extraordinary 2,436 kilometres in the name of climate action.

St Mary’s Primary School, Moss Side, after a busy Spring Term the Enterprise Team were very excited to finally open their shop. They reported an amazing launch and said that all the staff, pupils and parents were wonderful with a great atmosphere on the day.  

St Mary’s CE Primary, Trafford

Karen Carr from St Mary’s CE Primary School, Sale, gave us a quick update on their Eco Refill Shop, ‘Eco Action’ and their progress so far…  

The children are planning on charging 50p for empty refill bottles, to cover delivery charges on stock – very enterprising!  They have also introduced a new scent to the product range – Lime, Basil, and Mandarin hand wash – following a review of what might sit well in the range. The Enterprise Team are also selling products to staff at lunchtime, as they are unable to attend at the regular shop opening time. It’s great to see the shop showing children who have an aptitude for the job roles – the Finance Manager is amazing, he just gets it! Despite the terrible weather, we have recently done a leaflet drop in the local community resulting in two new customers from outside school.  We also plan on encouraging local residents to come along to the next opening at the school gates and have used our own leaflets to promote the initiative.  Finally, they are excited to be inviting the Running Out of Time Relay into the school on the 14th June to raise awareness with pupils about the wider impacts of Climate Change.

Lizzie Gimblett, founder of Pupil Profit, added:

“We’re loving working with the Greater Manchester Schools; the children are doing such a fantastic job of running their refill shops and encouraging everyone to reduce unnecessary waste!  The schools are demonstrating the many ways in which the child led refill shops can positively impact on communities, from building children’s skills within a green business, to raising awareness of refill and reuse, and actively changing community behaviour around waste. Our first survey of parents, carers and staff showed over 93% respondents saying they’d like their school to open a child led refill shop.  The children’s shops are now open and very well received!’ 

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