Coffee truck to be used to help Brentwood students learn skills

It’s hoped it’ll help them when it comes to getting a job after school.

Author: Piers Meyler, Local Democracy Reporting ServicePublished 1 hour ago
Last updated 1 hour ago

Special educational needs pupils in Brentwood will be given a chance to learn new life skills as councillors approve plans to let them work in a mobile coffee van. Brentwood Borough Council has agreed to buy a coffee truck in a deal with Grove House School to teach students from the Brentwood special needs schools important skills in employment for when they leave school. Skills developed by operating the truck would not just include customer roles but also others such as accounting, stock handling and food hygiene standards.

The borough council however insist that this would be “first and foremost” about products that people will want to buy. A council report discussed on Friday said: “Whilst the venture is primarily a social impact venture it should be able to stand on its own two feet and be competitive. “It will not be promoted directly as a social impact venture,” the council adds in a report that was agreed on Thursday September 30.

It is currently working with a well-known coffee supplier while products such as baked goods will be secured from local suppliers wherever possible. Whilst primarily a customer facing function, other skills that would be developed in the partnership would include ordering and supply chains, stocking, accounting for sales, cash handling, customer service skills, sales & marketing, food hygiene standards and food preparation and barista skills. There are initial talks underway as to how classroom resource at Grove School will also be used to underpin the hands-on experience with classroom-based time around some of the business management aspects.

Councillor Gareth Barrett, (Lab, Brentwood South), who proposed the idea in a budget amendment last year, said at the Policy, Resources and Economic Development Committee: “It’s an example of something that hopefully is an added value element to a social capital or social business element to what the council’s doing. “With this commercial offer and the more schemes that we can come up with like this the greater the value the council provides beyond the financial to the economic development of the borough.” The coffee truck would be located at the front of the Town Hall from which the council would earn an annual pitch fee of approximately GBP5,000 and fund the financing costs of the vehicle investment.

As the numbers of staff at the town hall steadily increases it is envisaged staff and visitors will find this a convenient location for coffee and food. Footfall passing the town hall is generally strong during peak hours for students, Brentwood School and Brentwood County High are both very close. The coffee truck can also be taken to community events such as Strawberry Fayre, Business Showcase, lighting up and family fun days.

A spokesman for the SEAX Trust – a multi academy trust of four academies of which Grove House is one – said: “We have been in discussion with the council to develop opportunities for our young people with special educational needs and we are very excited about developing relationships.”

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