Parkside School wins national award for Norwich cafe run by its pupils
- Credit: Steve Adams
A pioneering cafe run by pupils at a complex needs special school has won a national business award.
Parkside School took over the lease of the White Lion Cafe, on White Lion Street in Norwich, early last year, and was praised by Ofsted inspectors who gave the school an 'outstanding' rating this April.
Now, the cafe has triumphed at the Education Business Awards, held in London last week, beating competitors to win the SEN Provision Award for 2016.
Head of school Susan Booth said pupils were 'absolutely thrilled' to hear of their success.
She said: 'I think they chose us because it's something that no-one else has attempted to do. A lot of people open things like charity shops, but opening a fully-functional cafe where young people are learning to make coffee, cake and food, and do all the jobs you would have in a cafe, and with social interaction skills with the public and handling money, and going out into the city to purchase flowers and a newspaper - all this has been recognised by the business awards as totally transferable skills for any business.'
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She said that when staff member Helen Holderness first came up with the idea of a opening up a cafe, 'we probably first of all looked at her with our mouths open, saying how can we do that, but she has been the driving force since the beginning and we have supported that'.
She added: 'It's had an amazing effect. Some of our students who were quite reticent about communication are now serving at tables, asking people what they would like, and coming back and checking that their meal is OK, and they are enjoying it.
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'They now have the confidence to talk to people they don't know.
'Children are now able to move around in the city centre, who would have been frightened to go out into the city before.'
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