The Shop was opened in September 2013. Few people know it started as a joke conversation between the three then headteachers on site. We guessed some parents might spend up to 45 minutes each session ‘dropping off’ or ‘picking up’ from one or more of the schools on site. We jested that we needed our own ‘Costa’ or ‘Starbucks’ for parents waiting so long. This ‘joke’ turned into the most innovative community project we could have imagined. Indeed many schools compliment us our decision to proceed and some have even tried to replicate it. It is run and managed by our excellent Parent Support Adviser (PSA) Norma. Indeed, the shop is affectionately known as “Norma’s”.
The Shop is a social enterprise that was created to answer three basic needs
- children real experiences e.g. maths for a reason, work experience etc
- a focal point for parents to access our PSA and meet/talk/network over coffee
- an outlet to sell produce/school-made crafts/goods and a place where pupils can learn valuable production, retail and hospitality skills
Enjoying an affordable cup of coffee/tea and chatting to others is a fairly basic but important first step – especially for parents and families who are new to the school or the site. It is an underestimated ‘in’ to talk with others and get past the awkwardness that can unintentionally occur on some school sites. We have found this invaluable in building relationships, removing barriers and developing our most human side – service with a smile. Over the years the small profits generated have been reinvested to develop The Street – the area we affectionately call between the car park and the front door of Wyndham Park Infants’ School. Norma has run the shop day-in day-out with the generous support of an army of volunteers. This has a great way for parents to make friends, give something back and make our shop the heart of the campus.
“Coffee is a great leveller, especially when crossing the school threshold can cause anxiety for many parents. Mind you, so is a steam roller.” Mr Flemington