Facilitating learning to ‘jump start a legacy of home cooking.

packets of spices  students with certificates

At Vantage Academy Trust, we try to think outside the box to provide additional benefits for our leaners and their families. This is why the feedback from our schools’ recent collaboration project with Cracking Good Food (@Crackinggoodfood) and Salford Council Voluntary Services (@SalfordCVS) has been outstanding and has evidenced why our vision and values are so important to the work we carry out on behalf of our leaners and staff. By not setting a limit on what is possible for us, our schools and our communities and encouraging leaners to be curious about the world in their own personal learning journey, we enable our community to experience a broader knowledge of learning and wellbeing. In partnership with these organisations, cooking sessions for 22 families and 34 pupils across two schools in Salford: St Augustine’s CE Primary and St Paul’s CE Primary. These sessions not only provided cooking skills and food knowledge, they brought together families in a communal setting to learn, share and develop as individuals, whilst also sparking an enthusiasm and interest in providing good food for each other. The funding granted for this project set up 24 two-hour sessions between November 2022 and May 2023. Both schools were also able to contribute to the Cracking Good Food preloved clean working kitchenware appeal, helping communities facing financial hardship with the redistribution of over 5 tonnes of preloved equipment.

‘The Cracking Good Food’ Family cooking sessions are fantastic! Not only do families learn to cook healthy affordable meals, but they get to enjoy precious time with their child, sitting down and eating a meal they have made together, which is priceless!

Much of the feedback received from the participants emphasised building confidence in individuals, both for the carers as much as the children. The sessions gave opportunities for meeting and talking to peers (of different school years or other parents) they would not meet on a typical school day. Several carers expressed pleasure at being able to focus on their child/ren, which gave them confidence to allow their child to help more at home, to experiment and be more adventurous, encouraging them to try new foods/ingredients. Each session provided recipes that were affordable, seasonal, sustainable, nutritious, and minimised food waste, and families participated in discussions, games, and quizzes to expand their learning journey when considering nutrition, diets, cooking methods and new ingredients. Participants received an electronic ‘Recipe Booklet’ bespoke to their group with photos of the various sessions/dishes. Additionally, recipes and information from each session were shared with the rest if school through each school’s newsletter. Stats gathered during the sessions suggested:

  • 100% felt at ease to share their personal experiences and ask questions.

  • 80% learned a new cooking technique.

  • 72% tried, tasted, or cooked new ingredients e.g., ginger, beans, yeast, gram flour, couscous or yoghourt.

Feedback from our teachers and teaching assistants included:

“Children throughout the school kept coming up to me and asking if they could come to the sessions, after hearing about them from the children who had attended. They took a great interest in what was being cooked and all asked if they could try some. They all said they would have loved to have had the same opportunity.”

“The children who attended the sessions benefited greatly and were very willing to share their experiences with their peers and other teachers via classroom chats/discussions and ‘show and tell’.”

“Each group (parents were also invited) were given their end of course certificates in an assembly, giving the children opportunity to talk about the sessions.”

“We would like to thank all those families who participated, our school staff and Cracking Good Food for ensuring this project was a resounding success. We hope more of our families can continue their wellbeing and culinary journeys.”

“We have been lucky enough to be chosen to attend classes for 6 weeks now, me and my daughter absolutely loved it and have looked forward to it every week, we will be sad it’s finished, we have had brilliant time with brilliant people and learned a lot and had fun doing it. Thank you all very much!” Parent, St Augustines.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with cracking good food. It has been great to spend time bonding with my children and learning new skills. My boys have eaten foods they wouldn’t at home. I can’t thank you all enough. Paula and Neha have been amazing, and they have inspired our group.” Parent, St Augustines.

“I learned a lot about other ways of cooking, and I cook in my home. I learnt healthy cook food and how easy it is, and I really like it.” Parent, St Pauls