Café colleges coming to Glasgow

A new initiative that transforms coffee shops into adult education centres by night is rolling out in Scotland.

As part of the PopUp College project, students can attend Costa Coffee shops after closing to attend a range of night classes. Subjects include video editing and an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) qualification.

The initiative partners colleges and independent learning providers with café sites – such as Costa and Krispy Kreme – who open their stores especially for adult learners after hours. Additionally, students can purchase coffee and cake during their class.

From next week, City of Glasgow College will take bookings for an English language course at a Costa café in St Enoch shopping centre, priced at around £80 for six weeks.

Although the colleges manage the process – including the teaching staff and programme selection – a small fee is paid to PopUp itself to cover marketing and organisation costs.

The initiative has already proved popular in England, where over 30 sites have been launched over the last year.

Created by former teacher Jason Elsom as a response to government cutbacks in the adult learning budget, the PopUp Colleges aim to provide a convivial and easily accessible learning space for adults looking to pick up new skills.

“It’s about really making people feel relaxed, not sitting in rows of seats in a classroom, like you often find in a classroom environment,” said Elsom in an interview with weekly educational publication Tes.

Costa initially approached Elsom to help develop its charitable foundation – which aims to extend education opportunities – wherein he suggested the firm offer space in its shops for classes.

Additionally, PopUp College has longer-term plans to bring its set-up to rural communities – targeting adult learners who are distant from further education options.

“We can access probably several thousands or tens of thousands of people who live in rural communities, who first of all wouldn’t necessarily consider going to college, but secondly perhaps wouldn’t do the half hour each way drive to go to a college,” continued Elsom.

If the Glasgow offering proves popular, other courses could be set to follow.

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