Wednesday 7 October 2015
THE kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home but how about it being the heart of a school too?
That’s just what one Sheffield primary school has done by putting its working kitchen right in the centre of the school in a bid to make sure children get a great food experience.
St Thomas of Canterbury School in the Meadowhead area, has adopted this visionary approach as part of its “food vision” for the school.
Complete with bistro style tables and restaurant worthy menus and chalk boards, pupils are encouraged to try new tastes and learn about where their food comes from as well as see how it is made.
And in another first, the kitchen will be serving breakfast and tea as well as lunches for those children who need wrap around care.
The Bishop of Hallam, the Rt Rev Ralph Heskett, will join the celebrations at the official opening of the new kitchen, called Bistro St Thomas, when he samples some of its delicacies. He will also be opening the school’s new nursery block for the early years foundation stage, catering for three and four year old children.
This light-filled learning space has links to the outdoors, where children can learn through exploration, investigation and play to develop skills they need. The outdoor space – accessed by children and staff via a giant slide – includes a pond, a growing garden, a mud kitchen, a play house, giant sandpit, climbing equipment and even chickens. On top of this is a dense woodland area, used for den building and forest schools.
Executive head teacher Andrew Truby said: “It is no secret that getting children to eat well, regularly and healthily leads to greater achievements in schools but it can be hard for parents whose children may turn their noses up at healthy food. That is why we decided to go for something different here at St Thomas’. If we teach children at a young age where food comes from, why it is important and how it is cooked this will have a huge effect on their lifelong relationship with it. And that in turn will affect their achievements and ultimately their health.
Head of School Liam Colclough added, “This is a win win situation for us – not only are we getting delicious food cooked using food grown in our own gardens, but we are also giving children the ability to reach their goals. On top of this it will operate at times of the day when children and parents need that bit extra – like in the morning and evening. The feedback we have had and the support from parents and pupils alike has been great. Parents have been delighted by the delicious, wholesome menu and often wish they could stay for the hotel-style breakfast themselves!”
The “food vision” was created over a year ago after the school outlined its ambition for great food and an open kitchen in the heart of the school. They wanted to create a lively working kitchen where children could work alongside a head chef to learn about food, design menus and discover new taste sensations as part of a healthy nutritious diet.
The whole project has been a partnership between the school, Taylor Shaw who run the city’s school meal service, and Sheffield City Council’s Schools Food Service.
Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families added: “We need to ensure that children have the fuel they need in order to be happy and healthy and perform well at school. What they are doing at St Thomas’ is brilliant! They are increasing take-up of school dinners by cooking food that is both appetising and nutritious; making the dining hall a welcoming place; allowing children to eat with their friends while at the same time getting them interested in cooking and growing food.
“We know from experience that this change is led by head teachers and that is clearly what is happening at St Thomas’ school. Well done them!”
She added this scheme highlighted the vital importance of making sure food is high quality and tasty while creating a culture in school where everyone appreciates the importance of food.
The move comes as the school also celebrates opening its new nursery. Special menus are now designed for very young children, whose needs are quite specific, while at the same time encouraging them to take an interest and excitement in food.
Jim Lovett, CEO of Taylor Shaw said: “We have updated the service to reflect the changing needs of not only the children’s lunchtime but the whole school day provision. By working with the school and the council we have created a meal service that keeps the children engaged and hopefully develops their interest and understanding of where food comes from. Our chef on site has developed menus that incorporate the finest, freshest seasonal food – some of which comes directly from the school garden and has been planted by the children.”
Notes to editors:
Part of the project was to refurbish and expand the old kitchen area and make it suitable for providing the range of services the school wanted to offer to their families. This included making it more child-friendly as well as creating a contemporary new look, with chalk menu boards, new cutlery and ceramic plates.
The modern design reflects the school’s culture of growing fruit, salad and vegetables in order to support pupil’s understanding of the field to fork journey.
Class teachers also regularly enjoy sitting with their class to encourage them to eat their greens and to promote good table manners.
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