Student chefs cater for their school’s residentials

Key features

  • Students catering for Year 10 residentials
  • The journey from disaffection to volunteering
  • Lowering residential costs

As Canterbury’s Learning Away model progressed, with a focus on bringing down costs, the school’s Chef’s Academy was approached to provide the catering. The Chef’s Academy trains post-16 students in real-word situations over two years, using the BTEC in Catering as its vocational award.

On a daily basis the Chef’s Academy runs a restaurant on the school site, using a professional-standard kitchen. The lead member of staff for the course, in conjunction with the school’s deputy headteacher, thought it would be good experience for the students to work within an unfamiliar, outdoor environment without less equipment and facilities. And so the residential Chef’s Academy was born …

Over the last four years, the Chef’s Academy course leader has given his students the task of planning and delivering the catering for each Year 10 residential. Prior to the residential the students develop a varied menu for the five days, taking into consideration funding limits, cooking and refrigeration/freezer facilities. On the residential they put their plan into action and deliver three meals a day to around 90 people. Where time allows the students also join in with residential activities, which has led to them participating in new and challenging experiences.

The Chef’s Academy is very much part of the whole residential experience at Canterbury High, and has had a notable impact on some of the catering students in terms of their confidence, engagement and professionalism. The schools’s Learning Away Coordinator was especially impressed with the progress of one student, Terence, which she describes here:

“Over the course of his school career Terence really struggled to engage within lessons and the school environment. He was always late to school and found it difficult to stay in lessons due to his behaviour. Terence is from a particularly dysfunctional family that experiences regular episodes of violent and anti-social behaviour. The impact of this on Terence’s behaviour, which spilled into school, put him at great risk of permanent exclusion.

To try and re-engage him into school and encourage his self-confidence Terence was enrolled in the Chef’s Academy. As a result he attended three residentials as part of the catering team. He immersed himself into the residential experience, helping out where ever possible and becoming part of the staff team. The lead member of staff was so impressed with his work over the course of the week at Carroty Wood. He explained that Terence took initiative to complete jobs without being asked and was always up first to help cooking breakfast. The staff member also said he would have been willing to pay Terence for his work as he had been so invaluable to the staff team.

By engaging Terence in residential experiences, he gained confidence and was able to develop his work ethic and motivation. He continues to work as part of the catering team for a variety of residentials as a volunteer, having now graduated from the Chef’s Academy. Terence’s take on his experience is that he feels strongly that he is able to give something back to the school and to support other young people to benefit as he did.”