Teach one, reach many: Our cooking training for school staff

2 April 2024
In the last 18 months, we've run cooking and gardening training for teachers from more than 100 schools. Now, with newfound confidence, they're passing on their skills to children and inspiring healthy eating and green thumbs.

Our Food Teacher Sharon Conrad recently finished another round of cooking training for staff - this time in the London Borough of Wandsworth. Here, she walks us through a typical session and tells us what the schools get out of it.

We begin the sessions by opening a discussion on the barriers and obstacles that teachers face during their food education lessons, which often include things like lacking resources or confidence. This is an opportunity for teachers to bond in sharing their experiences with each other. Then the group talks through safety measures, allergens and practical substitutes, and the best way to set up a room based on available equipment.

Next, teachers are guided through four recipe demonstrations:  

      Vietnamese rainbow rolls 
      Smoked mackerel paté
      West African salad

Many school cooking spaces are not equipped with stoves or ovens, so we focus our recipes on healthy, non-cook options. All recipes showcase specific kitchen skills that teachers are encouraged to share with their students. 

The Vietnamese rainbow rolls offer sensory education, as students build the rolls with their hands and have an opportunity to touch, smell and taste each vegetable component. While the smoked mackerel paté offers a simple, no-knife recipe, the West African salad and raita provide an opportunity to educate students on essential knife skills in the kitchen. These recipes also allow open discussion about ingredients from different cultures - an important part of food education.

Teachers are then invited to engage in a reflection exercise, where they share learnings and ask questions about nutrition. For example, we might discuss the importance of cooking with a variety of vitamin-rich and colourful vegetables. The rainbow roll is a perfect example of ‘eating the rainbow’. We also share opportunities to link cooking to a wider curriculum. Teachers are encouraged to discuss food groups with students and guide them through discussions on the Eat Well guide and how to make a balanced meal.  

After the session, we continue supporting teachers and schools by providing a list of available resources for lesson planning, recipe inspiration, and continued food education. Check out a few of our favourites below:

Teacher training sessions are usually commissioned by local governments. If you would like to bring teacher training sessions to your school community, contact Dela@schoolfoodmatters.org