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What’s cooking?

Each year the school’s leadership team and governing body engage in a cycle of school improvement. Priority areas are discussed and plans are drawn up to produce a rather impressive document called the School Development Plan. This forms the basis for much of the work we do throughout the year, as we work to achieve what we’ve set out to do. Governors monitor our progress – and at the end of the year, hopefully, everyone feels the satisfaction of having made improvements to the education we provide our children.

This year, one of our aims is to build on the work we have been doing to really develop a food culture within the school community. I think I’ve said this before in a previous blog, however, what is the point in working hard to produce intelligent, thoughtful, creative children, if they go on to live on a diet of fast food, pre-prep and take-aways? Health really is everything. We want children who understand where their food comes from, know how to prepare food from fresh ingredients and love the social aspect of enjoying and sharing great food with friends and family.

Having taught in primary schools for a very long time, I don’t think I’ve ever met a child who doesn’t enjoy cookery. Cookery lessons are great fun, sociable and you get to eat something pretty fantastic at the end of it. And cooking involves maths, English and science; art and design; history and culture; creativity and dexterity. It’s win win!

Our work started last week with the launch of the new Autumn menus, which have received rave reviews, particularly Thursday’s, now legendary, Indian vegetarian banquet. It seems everyone was talking about the Tarka Dahl and Michael’s speciality breads.

This was followed up last week with the launch of cookery club. Eight chefs, dressed in full chef’s clothing, started the cookery course with a Thai salad. Each chef was issued with their own brand new, very sharp, chef’s knife – and taught the importance of knife skills in the preparation of food. Unfortunately, in some cases, this traditional vegetarian dish was contaminated with blood and bits of finger, but as Michael said, this is all part of the learning process. No one ever got to become a top chef without the humiliation of a few blue plasters.

Coming up soon is Michael Batoux’s Supper Club, which is a chance for the community to experience fine dining in the neighbourhood. With a North African theme, this promises to be a great experience.

However, the most ambitious part of the School Development Plan is to ensure cookery becomes truly embedded within the Highgate Primary Curriculum. This is not so straight forward as classrooms, generally speaking, don’t have the best cooking facilities – two rather antiquated ‘Baby Bellings’ isn’t going to be enough to get our 450 children cooking on a regular basis. There really is only one option – ‘The Cookery School at Highgate Primary’. It is ambitious, it will be hard work and expensive to build. Can we afford it? Personally, I think we can’t afford not to.

William