Food education – Better Eating, Better Learning - Williamwood High School
This practice exemplar considers how catering staff at schools in East Renfrewshire are working in collaboration with education to help develop cooking skills in line with guidance from Better Eating, Better Learning and the food and health benchmarks. It is part of a series of practice exemplars about making the links between education and catering.
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What was done?
The catering manager, teachers and pupils at Williamwood High School in Clarkston worked together to look at suitable recipes that would comply with The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007. Each dish was produced as per the recipe and then discussions took place on how to improve the health content. Pupils spent time looking at the cost effectiveness of the dish with the catering manager while learning about the feasibility and practicality of each dish.
The project aimed to help young people:
- learn new skills to take home and ultimately use at home
- develop skills and confidence in practical cookery
- be more comfortable with different types of food and experience different tastes
- gain experience of the food and drink industry with a view to a future career
- strengthen numeracy skills when looking at cost effectiveness of dishes
- develop nutrition knowledge of food groups
What was the impact?
Children and young people evaluated the programme positively and there was positive feedback from parental surveys. Evidence indicates that the skills taught at school are being taken home and young people are now cooking at home.
Headteacher Willie Ingles said:
"I will find the budget for the programme in the future as it was a positive experience for the pupils."
Catering lead Debi Ward said:
"I was amazed at how engaged the pupils became with the importance of nutrition."
One pupil said:
"I was so honoured to be included in the programme."
What happens next?
Catering and education staff realised the importance of the project as pupils developed a variety of skills, and they plan to ensure the programme is continued in future years. They felt the school kitchen should not be closed after lunch and should be identified as an extended classroom.
The programme could be further developed by working with the school's Eco group and incorporating home-grown herbs and vegetables.
Advice to those thinking of implementing a similar programme would be to:
- ensure risks assessments are in place
- ensure that children with special diets are taken into consideration
- allow time for preparation, sourcing ingredients and working with pupils
- be aware that ownership of the programme and strong partnership working between catering and education staff with a positive attitude is required to drive the session forward