Turning a bakery or café into a temporary classroom could generate up to £100 an hour, according to one learning provider.

Created by former teacher Jason Elsom as a response to government cutbacks in the education budget, the PopUp College initiative aims to provide accessible learning spaces for adults looking to pick up new skills.

The scheme is part of a wider trend for ‘pop-up’ education, explained Elsom.

“PopUp College was not the first organisation to provide community-based learning, but we are pleased to play a role in opening doors for providers across the country,” he said. “It’s becoming quite trendy, as people recognise that our technology-driven world is leading to isolation. It’s easy to stay at home after a long day at work, but life is much more fun learning something new in the company of others.”

Currently rolled out to more than 100 sites across the UK – including Costa, Krispy Kreme and Starbucks – PopUp College partners learning providers with businesses that open their stores in the evening for adult learners. It was recently extended to Glasgow.

Students can purchase coffee and cake during their class, opening an opportunity for small bakeries and cafés to earn money while making a positive difference to their local community, said Elsom.

Some businesses have seen over £100 in revenue for an additional hour of trading, he added.

British Baker spoke to Elsom about how the initiative could help small bakeries increase visibility and profit:

What direct benefits have you seen for businesses joining the scheme?

“PopUp College does not typically pay a venue fee, so the business would need to cover costs through sales or provide the space as part of their ‘social responsibility’ benefit. We typically arrange for store staff to join classes for free.

“The concept not only supports local communities – by placing learning and leisure opportunities at their heart – but also breaks down barriers to learning by removing the need to walk into a traditional and often overwhelming environment, such as a large college campus.”

Do you believe that showing social responsibility is important for small business branding currently?

“Yes. Specifically, it creates good will in the community toward the small business. Where courses become a consistent feature at the store, people will talk about the store more often. It’s important that the high street becomes seen as much more than just a daytime shopping venue.”

What are you looking for in a potential evening learning centre?

“A safe, secure, and relaxing environment where learners feel at home. They should typically be easy to get to by foot, car and public transport. They should be staffed appropriately, so that extended hours do not feel like an additional burden on top of ‘the day job’.”

What should businesses consider before joining?

“Where would classes take place during normal trading hours, and do they have the space to provide a quiet learning atmosphere? Where would classes take place after normal trading hours, and does the site have the staff and flexibility to support the additional hours without it impacting the lives of its team members? Would learners feel comfortable sitting in their business for two hours? Our classes typically take place between the hours of 7pm and 9pm, although may happen at any time of day where there is demand.”

Do the classes lead to repeat custom or increased visibility for the businesses?

“Businesses can leverage their work with us through local media by contacting the newspaper (for example) and asking them to write a piece or visit their first class.”

In what other ways could joining PopUp College benefit a small business?

“We have few small businesses at the moment, but those who work with us express how much fun it can be. Learners and tutors enjoy the experience, and staff can join the classes too.”