We are working with two pilot schools already - Orford Primary School in Suffolk and Rotherfield Primary School in Islington - and are now selecting two additional schools. If you are interested in learning more, register your school details with us in our get involved section to make sure you receive our updates.
If your school is selected for the programme, there are a number of phases that you will need to complete before the school is able to grow and cook its own food. Each school has individual needs and it will take time to raise funds, build facilities, train staff and timetable the delivery of classes, before any cooking or growing classes can start.
Our work at our pilot schools will help us develop models for a larger roll out.
In larger schools, such as our Islington pilot school, this may mean that the project is focused on certain year groups. If this is the case, we recommend that the project focuses on Key Stage 2 pupils, as our current curriculum is best suited to this age range.
Smaller schools that can offer the classes to all age groups will find that our teaching resources can be easily adapted, and our recipes include a selection suitable for larger or smaller hands!
Cooking and growing classes are not intended be optional. The project aims to be built into school life and run continually throughout the academic year. The more frequent the cooking and growing classes can be, the more likely we are to make a difference to children's food choices.
A particular model we take great inspiration from is the brilliant Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation in Australia. Here are some proven results from the scheme:
- Improved behaviour and engagement in learning
- Increased willingness in children to try new foods
- Improved child knowledge, confidence and skills in relation to cooking and gardening
- Increased self-esteem and motivation
- Improved school social environment
- Increased school community connection
Reference: Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation evaluation (2009)
The programme is considered particularly effective at engaging non-academic learners and children with challenging behaviours - participating children showed clear changes in attitude, knowledge, skills and confidence in relation to cooking and gardening.
In 2009 Jamie and his deputy Louise Holland visited the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation in Australia. Inspired by what they saw, Louise rallied support from charities and businesses to fund a pioneering purpose-built pilot project at Orford Primary School in Suffolk. In 2011, Michelle Smith was recruited as schools project manager to develop the project on behalf of Jamie and Louise, and a second London-based pilot project began to take shape at Rotherfield Primary School in Islington. Work continues on both these pilot projects and an evaluation report by Sheffield University is in progress. Watch this space!
The Kitchen Garden Project approach - best described by Stephanie Alexander as "real scrape-the-bowl, dirt-under-the-fingernails learning" - aims to reinstate the importance of food education through an integrated curriculum approach. The long-term vision is to give kids the knowledge and skills they need to make better food choices for themselves in adulthood, and to provide schools with an engaging, practical tool through which children can learn core curriculum subjects. Like many education specialists, we believe children learn better through doing. As Jamie says: "It's about setting kids up for life."
At the heart of the project are three key ambitions:
To educate children about food: what it is, where it comes from and how it impacts on their health and wellbeing.
To empower children by arming them with the tools they need to prepare meals from scratch and the knowledge to make better food choices for themselves and their future families.
To inspire children, parents and teachers to build on these foundations.
We have two pilot projects underway and applications are currently closed for our next phase of pilots. We have recieved incredibly enthusiastic interest, and we are inspired by the amazing things happening in schools all over the country. We value all of the like-minded, forward- thinking schools with staff who believe that food education is an integral part of a child's learning, and who understand that teaching children about food from a young age has the potential to change our society for the better. We want to work with teachers and governors who hope to deliver an alternative and inspiring curriculum for their pupils, one that uses cooking and growing to engage children in their core curriculum as well.
We're intentionally starting with a limited number of schools so that we can review and tweak our model to be in the best possible shape for greatest impact. We remain committed to our BIG vision: to get food education back on the school curriculum and for every child in the UK to have access to a Kitchen Garden Project by 2022.
We are currently reviewing the criteria for Jamie Oliver's Kitchen Garden Projet, and we will be posting the ammended criteria soon!