Food for Thought – A Culinary Education

Date Posted: Thursday 04 January 2024

What is the importance of learning about food hygiene, cooking skills and kitchen safety? Should schools be more involved? Learning how to cook is an essential skill, however not all schools offer a culinary education to students to equip them with this necessary skillset. While Cookery in schools may seem to be teaching simple recipes, it is actually a key opportunity to educate in nutrition, and food and kitchen safety, as well as to unlock creative culinary potential.  

New Hall School considers Cookery as an enrichment to the curriculum for all in Years 5-9, but a special programme offered to Sixth Form students directly addresses the need for these skills later on in life. With the launch of an exciting Introduction to Confident Cookery course with the renowned Leiths Academy, many Sixth Form students were given an opportunity to enhance their skills before the end of their schooldays.  

The young chefs have found much success in New Hall’s first year as a Leiths Academy School, passing their external examinations with flying colours. Most importantly, those who complete the three-term programme will be going into university and living alone with an exclusive cooking skillset and awareness of food safety which, according to recent Food Standards Agency surveys, nearly half of their peers lack. Additionally, an accredited course such as this one offers many opportunities for all students, such as seasonal hospitality and restaurant work. 

It is an exciting time for aspiring chefs, as the School has recently opened its brand-new cookery room. This new state-of-the-art specialist classroom accommodates the growing demand of the prestigious Leiths Academy Cookery course, as well as finding its other uses from the Modern Languages Department. In specialised lessons, the weekly Spanish Cookery Club and termly French Soirées, cultural experience combines with the culinary arts for an innovative approach towards learning French and Spanish. 

These Cookery skills have certainly proven useful in active community service, as New Hall’s students regularly organise charity bake sales throughout the year, ranging from a Biology-themed charity sale to Movember and Mental Health Week bakes, and many individual initiatives. Last academic year, over £2,500 was raised through these bountiful bake sales – with growing numbers each year! 

In New Hall’s more than 100 years of Cookery, many students were inspired to turn their passion into a career. 1996 alumna Imogen Tinkler co-founded the Kitchen Revolution Movement ‘Bangers and Balls’, whilst 2012 alumna Hattie Wilkinson is now a Digital Content Creator who shares recipes on social media, collaborating with big brands. In 2014, whilst completing her GCSEs, alumna Amy-Beth Ellice became Britain’s youngest published cookery author at just 16 years old, with Amy’s Baking Year. Her bakes have received widespread celebrity endorsements, even featuring in the Big Brother house.  

A culinary education in schools can open a world of opportunities for students – from learning basic life skills, to finding and pursuing a passion.