5:00pm Thursday 24th January 2013
By Hayley Mortimer
STUDENTS at the Cotswold Chine School have been serving tea and coffee to dog walkers and golfers on Minchinhampton Common since the Halfway Café opened its doors for business earlier this month.
The Novalis Trust, owners of the school, which provides education for students with behavioural and learning difficulties, closed the Halfway House pub in July to turn it into a café.
Jake Lukas, chief executive of Novalis Trust, said: "The main thing was to offer meaningful work experience to our students. It gives the children an opportunity they might not normally get.
"Some local businesses are wary of taking the risk with some of the students because of their behavioural and social difficulties.
"For the children, the cafe is halfway between living in a residential setting and living in society.
"We are hoping the local community will show their support. We do accept that people will miss the pub but hope they will embrace the cafe."
The school had a glowing Ofsted report last year but one of the areas identified as needing improvement was work experience.
Students will now be able to take up a Btec in hospitality and catering while working a few hours a week in the café.
Rico Lane, 17, who has been a pupil at the school for eight years, was working in the café on the opening day, Tuesday, January 8.
"It is a nice break from the classroom and it was quite pleasant. I haven't done anything like this before and quite enjoyed myself," he said.
Lucy Neal, 16, who also worked on the opening day, added: "It is going to really help with my confidence. I want to get a good job when I am older and you have to start somewhere."
Headteacher Maureen Smith said: "Education goes beyond the classroom. It allows them to plan their future and it is a great opportunity for the students to go on and find employment."
The café is open everyday from 10am to 3pm and the trust plans to turn a section of the building into a village shop in the next few months, selling all the essentials plus craft work made by residents at the Paradise House care home in Painswick.
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