Tucking in to a feast of learning opportunities

This press release has been written by Heidi Bates, age 15, as part of the Young Reporters scheme. Young Reporters are part of a new youth media initiative across Calderdale called ExPRESSion, which is run by Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Service. The Young Reporters work hard to find great stories, report on positive news and share information about events that take place across the area. The project enables them to build their skills and experience in writing blogs, articles, reviews and much more. These young people dedicate their time for free and they are passionate about being able to share great stories online and in print.

Ravenscliffe High School in Calderdale has certainly cooked up a treat by achieving the prestigious Food for Life Partnership Gold Award.

Not only is it the first special school in the UK to accomplish this status, it is also the second high school in the whole country. After 10 years of working with the innovative project and following its ethos, the school has been recognised for its aim to provide insightful training opportunities and valuable life skills for its pupils. It also allows students to gain independence whilst preparing them for possible employment opportunities in catering establishments across Calderdale, once they leave school.

To celebrate this fantastic achievement, an event was held on Wednesday 19 June at the school. Among the attendees were students, Calderdale Councillors, and local suppliers who helped the school gain the award. Jeanette Orrey MBE, Food Advisor for the Food for Life Partnership, presented the award.

The Food for Life Partnership uses food as a way to improve young people’s school experiences, by sourcing and cooking locally grown food and working with communities to bring people together, significantly changing food culture throughout England. Ravenscliffe High School has introduced an array of different projects to encourage students with complex learning and behavioural difficulties to increase their understanding of healthy food preparation and lifestyles by enriching their classroom experiences.

The school opened its training kitchen in October 2012. It is a place where young people can develop their cooking skills using fresh, organic produce they grow themselves, whilst at the same time learning how this exciting process works. From September 2013, all students will be offered the opportunity to use the new purpose-built kitchen.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, Cllr Megan Swift, said:

“The Food for Life Gold Award is a wonderful achievement for everyone who has worked so hard to make it a reality. It shows that Calderdale is one of the country’s leaders in best practice in revolutionising food culture and making a real difference to young people and the community.”

Martin Moorman, Head Teacher of Ravenscliffe High School said:

“We believe the exciting and improved food experiences we have offered our students over the past year in particular have made a massive difference in terms of their health, behaviour and ability to improve their learning. This was reflected most noticeably in November when the school received an ‘Outstanding’ in all areas from Ofsted.”

Tony Mulgrew, who previously helped Todmorden High School to achieve the Food for Life Silver Award, is now the Catering Manager for Ravenscliffe. He said:

“The award was achieved through the consistent help and support of the school, catering staff and the local suppliers who provided good quality, British food. We believe that every school should be encouraged to achieve at least a Bronze award with the Food for Life Partnership, and Ravenscliffe High School hopes to support other schools in this process in order for them to experience the fantastic opportunities the young people are receiving.”

The award is not only a great achievement for the school, but it also reflects the hard work of Calderdale schools and the Food for Life Partnership in enabling young people to develop the skills and experience they need to prepare them for life. The school-wide catering initiative aims to encourage communities to eat and learn healthily. Giving young people good quality, fresh food presented in an attractive way that they will enjoy, allows them to perform better across the school day. Providing young people with healthy, attractive and exciting opportunities to learn will help them to succeed and look ahead to a brighter future.

By Heidi Bates, Young Reporter, ExPRESSion

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