Derby special school launches cooking classes with mainstream primary to promote inclusiveness and healthy eating

BUDDING young chefs from two schools in Derby have been learning how to cook a healthy meal and gaining essential life skills.

St Giles School - the city’s only special primary school - have welcomed youngsters from a near-by mainstream school, Ashwood Spencer Academy, in Allenton, to their weekly ‘Chef Club’ sessions, where they plan and cook tasty treats, which are then taken home.

The unique partnership between the two schools is to promote inclusiveness and healthy eating. Research has shown that frequent interaction between pupils from special and mainstream schools can increase social awareness, skill acquisition and often sees new friendships formed.

Emily Deacon, learning tutor at St Giles School, is leading the project. She said: “We have had a fantastic response to our ‘Chef Club’ so far. The children from both schools have gained so much from the experience and gained new friends.

“Our aim is to promote a love of cooking and for pupils to gain important life skills which will enable them to cook for themselves and others. They’ll also learn about nutrition and healthy eating.”

Each week, pupils plan their own session by looking through recipe books and using the internet for inspiration to help them decide what they want to cook.

They then work together in small teams to create their dish following a set of instructions.

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen the children blossom and work really well together,” added Emily, “they are all very enthusiastic and thoroughly enjoy their sessions. They all take such pride in their work and are keen to take home their creations to share their achievements.”

Both schools belong to the Spencer Academies Trust, a multi-academy trust based in the East Midlands with a strategic focus on the East Midlands area.

St Giles School joined the Trust in 2019 and is the only special school under the Trust umbrella. Nationally, it is rare for schools catering for pupils with learning difficulties to forge such academy links with mainstream trusts.

Clive Lawrence, executive head teacher at St Giles, said: “It’s important for pupils from special and mainstream schools to have regular opportunities to learn together. Spencer Academies Trust very much share the same inclusive ethos and values as St. Giles; which is why we decided to join the ‘family of schools’. Together we are aspirational and ambitious for all children, including those with Special Educational Needs’”

“Mainstream schooling hasn’t always been a positive experience for some of our pupils, so strategies such as ‘Chef Club’ allows children to make friends and socialise with mainstream peers, but within the comfort of the settings of St. Giles School.  ‘Chef Club’ help’s to improve pupils outcomes in terms of communication, interaction and life skills within the wider community.”

“Pupils from Ashwood and St Giles absolutely love cooking together; and it’s fantastic to see some really positive friendship begin to blossom. As a child myself I attended Ashwood Spencer; formyl Nightingale Infant and Juniors, and loved my time there. It’s therefore great to be in a position of influence, whereby the school I lead can make a positive contribution to the community where I grew up”

 “Such collaboration will also allow skills, knowledge and expertise to be shared across the Trust. We look forward to more inclusive link-ups between St Giles and our partner schools, which will benefit all pupils.”

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