Clarke Road School in the market for a fresh idea

A mini-supermarket on school grounds is giving students with disabilities skills for their post-school life. Jim Griffiths reports.

Clarke Road School students using cash registers
Image: Immersive learning at the new Clarke Road School mini supermarket

Clarke Road Fresh Food opened this week turning a former storage shed into a replica supermarket to provide a range of real-world learning opportunities for students who have intellectual and other disabilities.

Clarke Road School principal Rebecca Saunders said K-12 students at Clarke Road School would develop real-world experience of a supermarket, building their skills in sorting, categorising, communication and independence and using money in a real-life context to purchase goods.

Ms Saunders said the opening of ‘Clarke Road Fresh Food’ and the presence of a mini supermarket on site represented all she could hope in opening new worlds for her students.

“The mini-Woolworths will enable our students to practise their skills in communication, exchanging money for goods in a secure and known environment before moving out into the wider community,” said Ms Saunders.

“I’d like to thank Woolworths and Fujitsu for their dedication over the past two months refreshing our shed, fruit and vegetable patch and chicken coop into an inclusive and stimulating environment where students can connect, succeed and thrive."

Ku-ring-gai Rotary was also involved in the project working with a Woolworths’ construction team to build accessible pathways, re-plant the outdoor fruit and vegetable patch for students to learn the importance of harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables and tidying up the chicken coop.

The mini-supermarket replicates the real-world experience with baskets for fresh food and items on stocked shelves. Using fully operational registers – donated by Fujitsu Australia - students learn customer service skills, scan grocery items, handle money and process sales in a comfortable environment.

Team members from local Woolworths help with register training and the set-up of each store.

At the opening earlier this week, Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Natalie Davis confirmed the company’s commitment to the program, announcing it would roll out 25 more mini-supermarkets across every state and territory by June next year.

“Inclusion plays a significant role within the Woolworths Group and we look forward to expanding the program and continuing our partnership with Fujitsu to make this happen, creating better experiences together for a better tomorrow,” Ms Davies said.

The next mini-supermarket is due to open at the GS Kidd Memorial School in Gunnedah in June, while other schools for specific purposes can express interest by visiting the mini-Woolworths website.

The mini-supermarkets are being developed through the Department’s partnership with Woolworths and Fujitsu Australia.

Clarke Road school mini supermarket
Image: From storage shed to mini supermarket: Clarke Road School's latest facility
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