Waitrose Joins Forces with Chefs in Schools to Launch New Qualification

School food charity, Chefs in Schools – which specialises in teaching school kitchen teams essential nutritional knowledge and the know-how to meet school food standards – is launching a training qualification at Waitrose Cookery School Finchley Road this September.  Waitrose will provide the Cookery School and produce free of charge to support the launch. Participants will attend a cook-a-long session as well as completing an online platform. 

Lindsey Crompton, Social Impact and Health Lead, said: “We’re thrilled to host Chefs in Schools at our Waitrose Cookery School for their launch.  It is so important to give children a healthy start in life and inspire them to love good food. Supporting the critical role chefs play in schools, this pilot is designed to equip them with the tools and knowledge they need to ensure school children are being fed nutritious and delicious meals.”

With the pandemic highlighting the impact of obesity on health, and the call for urgent action to encourage healthier diets in the National Food Strategy, improving school food is vital.

“School dinners have to be really good, otherwise of course the children don’t want to eat it. There can be nothing more important than growing a healthy nation.” Dame Prue Leith, patron of Chefs in Schools told Waitrose Weekend. “We all bang on about how important maths, English and science are, but so is learning to eat well. Because however good you are at maths and science and everything else, it’s no good if you’re not healthy.”

  • At least 60% of secondary schools aren’t meeting the legal School Food Standards (Food For Life State of the Nation report 2019)
  • 1 in 3 children leave school overweight or obese.
  • Around 1.7m children in England are entitled to free school meals – these meals need to be good meals.

Chefs in Schools was co-founded by the author of the National Food Strategy – Henry Dimbleby. The strategy calls for mandatory training of school kitchen teams. Chefs in Schools created the training course as there is no official or required qualification for school catering teams – even though they are responsible for feeding hundreds of children each day.

Yenny Chong, Head of Training at Chefs in Schools, said: “Childhood obesity has become a national emergency – but one, that as a society, we can tackle. The school dining hall presents an amazing opportunity to foster an enjoyment of good food and to learn about healthier food choices. 

It is vital that school kitchen teams have the knowhow to serve food that is nutritious, balanced and in the right quantities, but at the moment there is no tailored qualification available for them.

The training is tailored to school kitchen teams and will introduce small changes that could make a big difference to children’s lives – reinforcing what children are learning at school regarding whole development that contributes to their overall wellbeing and mental health.”

The School Chef Educator Qualification teaches about good school food culture, school food standards, portion sizes, food displays, plus tips and tricks that will get children excited about choosing more nutritious options. It is an online qualification enabling school chefs to complete the work at a convenient time and enabling them to participate in an increasingly digital world. Available to in-house kitchen teams and contract caterers, the course helps schools introduce changes that focus on a child’s whole development and make a difference to their future.


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