Meet the enterprising high school pupils making and selling homeware

  • Watch the video report by ITV Cymru Wales reporter, Kate Lewis.

For pupils at Willows High School in Tremorfa, Cardiff, school is about more than academic learning - it now offers a chance to gain a range of practical skills. 

From copper lamps to bespoke signs, wooden planters and jewellery, twice a week pupils come together at an afternoon school club to hone their workmanship.

The added benefit is that they get to pocket the pennies made from the sale of the products. 

The items are sold online and pupils are able to keep the profits. Credit: ITV Wales

SEC Willows is a social enterprise club run by pupils from Year 8 to Year 10. The pupils decide what they want to make and sell. They have set up their own Etsy website, which is carefully run and monitored under the watchful eye of the Business Manager, Year 10 pupil, Shaida Tufiq. 

“I’m in charge of email, the website, making sure we have all the products we need for events. We have an event on the 18th and I’ve had to make sure I have the list of everything and we don’t need anything else to be made and we have everything ready. Our busiest time was around Christmas when everyone was ordering Christmas trees, reindeers and snowmen as people wanted them for gifts and stuff. I made about £120 at Christmas time. I’m very proud of what I’ve learnt here as they aren’t really the skills you normally learn in school.“Coban Probert is a Year 10 pupil and joined SEC Willows After School Club earlier this year. Coban wants to be a carpenter when he leaves school. 

Having proved his passion and dedication, he now holds the title of Chief Carpenter, overseeing the work of fellow pupils and ensuring the goods, such as the wooden planters, are up to the high standard required to sell to the public. 

Whilst for some it’s given them practical skills they can use in the future, for others it’s helped them cope with returning to school after the disruption of Covid-19. 

The club started after their maths teacher brought in an item he had made at home Credit: ITV Wales

Carly Cable is currently in Year 10 and sitting her GCSEs. She suffers with anxiety and found that this after school club has helped her. She has been awarded the title of Chief Jewellery Designer and spends her time making and supervising others making all types of bracelets. 

"I used to get anxiety the night before school and panic attacks and crying and then I just ordered bracelets off line and I just made it and I just calmed myself down from making one bracelet. I used to just think ‘School, oh I don't want to go there' - but now with this club on Thursday it makes me stay at school."

The pupils pay the school back for the materials and are then able to keep the profit. Credit: ITV Wales

The school currently supplies the materials for the pupils to make the products. Following the sale of an item SEC Willows then pay the school back what they owe and the profits are split between the pupils. 

For 15-year-old Briony Shellard, the Copper Specialist, this club has not only given her skills which may be useful for a career in the army but also means she can help out financially at home from time to time. 

"I am very proud of the products because they get sold and they all give good feedback as well. I sometimes give it (the money) to my Mum and let my Mum buy what she wants or if I need something specific then I'll buy something for myself."

The club was formed after one of the Maths teachers at Willows High School took in a lamp he’d made at home. 

One of the pupils was so impressed by it that he asked to buy the lamp, but Mr Rhydian Batchelor refused the sale - offering instead to show the pupil how to make it. 

From there, the popularity of the lamp grew with other students wanting to make one and the idea for a social enterprise club run by the pupils was formed. 

“The students design the products, we then look at the costing of the products, and the school purchases the materials. We then make the products out of the materials, and pay the school back the cost of the materials. Every product has a minimum of £5 profit on it and then the people who make that product get to keep that £5. In addition to giving them the life skills to make the products but the main focus is the enjoyment of the pupils in the club, then followed by them making money, then everything thereafter is just a bonus such as their wellbeing and the skills they learn through it.”   

SEC Willows is currently taking orders online and through their website and will also be attending events over the coming weeks where their products will be on sale.