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New qualifications for school cooks

It is essential that all school catering staff have the training they need to be able to provide healthy meals for school children.  That is why the Department has worked with a number of partners to put in place qualifications and training for catering staff.

Since September 2005, a level 1 qualification in ‘Providing a Healthier School Meals Service’ has been available.  It has been specifically designed for staff involved in the preparation and service of school meals and it will help school caterers to improve pupils’ nutritional intake from all food provided by the school meals service.  The qualification enables school cooks to:

  • understand how to provide a range of healthier foods and meals in the school dining room and know why this is important; and
  • develop marketing ideas and material to promote healthier food choices to school children.

City and Guilds, ABC and ASET have received accreditation from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to deliver the qualification.  You can contact their local training centres for more information.

From September 2006 catering staff have also been able to take units at levels 2 and 3 in food safety, preparing and cooking healthier meals, the development and introduction of recipes and controlling payments by taking units which we have added to the Support Work in Schools qualification (SWiS).  Further information on the SWiS can be obtained from the Training and Development Agency at:

These formal qualifications are being supported by training materials from People 1st (the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality, travel and tourism industries) including a DVD with recipe demonstrations which will be available later in the Autumn.

The Department will also be investing £2 million in 2007-08 in the establishment of a network of training centres for school catering staff to act as centres of excellence.  The Department has asked the School Food Trust to take the lead on developing this proposal.  Further work is currently underway, including looking at how this network would fit into existing provision in schools and colleges, and by private providers.

Schools and local authorities can use some of the £220 million, which is being made available to them over the next three years, to pay for training for school catering staff.




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