Coffee shops have become popular meeting places for ‘on the go’ Londoners – the perfect spot for a working lunch or a business briefing.
But one entrepreneur now hopes to turn London’s cafes into hubs for learning.
New evening courses will be available at Costa shops from this month, offering tuition for GCSE English and a diploma in health and social care.
The educational initiative is the brainchild of Jason Elsom, a Cambridge University graduate who is aiming to launch hundreds of evening classes at coffee houses all over the country.
His company – PopUp College – has teamed up with the international coffee chain in an attempt to “fill the gap” in adult education left by local authority cutbacks.
Starting this month, aspiring students will have the chance to take part in weekly evening classes at the Hammersmith branch.
The English lessons are taking place alongside GCSE science classes in Romford and A level maths lessons in Whitechapel, while business skills are being taught in Ilford. One branch in Putney is even providing language courses in Italian.
Mr Elsom said the programme was targeting adult students who feel uncomfortable about returning to the classroom.
“At a time when adult education is under threat, we wanted to give people the chance to come in one night a week and learn a new skill, have some fun and also socialise at the same time,” he said.
“The Costa store creates a welcoming environment for adults who want to learn, but who are put off by the idea of a traditional college classroom.”
Mr Elsom was inspired to launch the scheme after a career switch of his own. He began his working life in the technology sector before retraining as a teacher and turning his hand to education.
Having risen to a senior leadership role within the field, he now works on a range of educational initiatives with private sector partners.
Since launching PopUp College in 2015, the business has grown to encompass more than 50 locations and 240 courses – including everything from Indian head massage to SATs preparation.
Costa said it wanted to make a “positive contribution towards customer health and wellbeing” by investing in educational projects.
Sandy Gourlay, the company’s charity and community manager, said: “We are delighted to support Jason and PopUp College with this exciting new initiative to create accessible courses to engage adults in education and teach people new skills.”