Project Description

The East Neuk coastal villages surrounding Waid Academy are a haven for tourists and foodies, with our local produce world renowned. The many cafés, hotels and restaurants in the area rely heavily on school pupils and school leavers to work in the hospitality industry in a variety of roles. With world class golf resorts and internationally renowned hotels on our doorstep, expectations of skills, service and customer care by employers and customers are high. Trained staff can command premium positions and one of these roles is that of a Barista.

At Waid Academy, enabling our pupils to gain training, qualifications and industry experience as Baristas allows them to access these more sought-after jobs, whether it be to pay their way through further or higher education or as a career pathway in the hospitality industry. As well as this, these trained employees will fill gaps in the local economy and aid economic growth.

Seeking training providers to work with the school and employers to provide work placements has been part of this project, while providing staff with Barista training to allow the school to apply to run the SQA Barista Award in the future is an additional goal.

We worked in collaboration with a range of local businesses to provide this valuable training to our pupils:

  • SRUC Elmwood College provided Barista training including food hygiene, customer service skills and food prep skills to 11 of our senior (16+) pupils.
  • Zest Café in St Andrews provided supported work placements for two of our pupils.
  • Owners, Vicky Elrick and Lorna Brisland, at The Pavillion in Elie offered additional placements.
  • Karen McIllhenny (Catering Supervisor) of AT&E Facilities Management who runs the catering facilities in-house at Waid Academy, allowed pupils to take over the coffee bar in school two days a week.

Eleven senior pupils (16+) have now completed their Barista Certificate with SRUC Elmwood, learning transferable skills, and are now going on to complete a minimum of two days industry work placement at a café or local restaurant. Many of these pupils have struggled to gain local employment due to lack of skills, training or confidence. Successful completion of this course and their work placement will lead to an SQA Work Placement Award, pave their way into employment in the hospitality sector and allow them to gain their Barista Certificate.

Barista skills will now be a course we offer next year, even just as a short skills-based infill course. Pupils will also be able to gain their work placement award in addition to their Barista Skills Certificate from College. Those pupils involved in running the coffee bar in school have been doing this as a Fairtrade Café and selling “Coffees for Ukraine” in order to raise money for DEC.

Hospitality Industry

Here’s what our pupils had to say about the experience:

Jessica Finlay, S6 pupil said,

“It’s been great, I didn’t think I could do it (my work placement), after my first day my feet are aching, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow”

Katie Pearson, S5 pupil said,

“I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve worked in cafés before and didn’t realise till I did my training that I was doing it all wrong as no one ever showed me properly, now I’m showing them! Lots of staff using the café have said I make one of the best cappuccinos they have had. I am really happy I did it.”

Alice McCall, S5 pupil said,

“I really liked finding out all about coffee, not just how it’s made but that was fun too but about health and safety and how to clean and care for the machinery and equipment. I’m excited for my work placement but nervous too.”

Waid Barista Training

It’s not just the pupils who had great things to say about their placements. Careen Brand, Lecturer at SRUC Elmwood, who visited pupils on placement said,

“The girls did really well! I was really impressed when I visited them on site how much they remembered from their course!”

Nicola Corlett, Teacher of Home Economics at Waid Academy said,

“I really enjoyed the Barista training and learned so much, even though I have used these machines commercially before. It was surprising how many coffee shops are not making their coffee correctly and once you’ve done the training you can really notice and taste the difference. Our pupils will have so much to offer potential employers now.”

Read more here!