St Peter’s whole school approach to food education inspired Jamie Oliver and the Food for Life Partnership

Resource: Case study Age: Primary

Situated in a large village, east of the city of Nottingham, St Peter’s CE Primary School kick-started a transformation of the country’s food culture after winning the Soil Association’s ‘Local Food Initiative of the Year’ award in 2002. It is now a Silver Mark school with around 200 pupils on its roll.

What they've achieved

This is the school where it all started. This is where Jeanette Orrey, now famous dinner lady, and headteacher David Maddison got fed up with feeding their pupils processed food and decided to introduce locally sourced, seasonal and organic ingredients to a menu of freshly prepared school dinners.
Their work was the catalyst for what is now the Food for Life Partnership and Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners campaign. Here’s a quick run down of the key drivers behind St Peter’s success.

  • A good and respectful relationship between the Headteacher and the School Cook – first Jeanette Orrey, now Sarah Plumb.
  • Recognition that food education is part of the Whole School Curriculum. This means tweaking the curriculum rather than making whole sale changes.
  • Substantial support from the pupils and their parents
  • Close ties with local suppliers such as Gonalston Farm Shop, which also provides butchery classes for the children.
  • A lovely dining hall with a ‘no queues policy’ . Here, pupils sit and enjoy their lunch for one hour and fifteen minutes.
  • Links with pensioners from the local community, who come to lunch once a week.
  • Lastly, farm links, gardening and cooking clubs bring the food education to life.

What they say

Headteacher David Maddison says:
"What we have learnt is that to be truly effective, our school meals service needed to extend itself into food education. Only in this way could we not only feed children well now, but try to ensure that they developed the understanding to make informed and healthy choices throughout their lives.
"Schools must promote both healthy eating and a satisfying curriculum. We find the hook to lift pupils, and we've found that can come through cooking and growing as well as through sports like football."
Talking about the links forged with pensioners from the locality, David says, "Being able to dine at the school teaches the older people that the younger people are decent people who help to make the world a better place. At the same time, the children learn just how interesting, complex, rich and enriching the older people and the lives they’ve lived are because they become friends."

The difference it makes

St Peter’s food culture has already had a positive impact on the children’s tastes and attitudes towards food. Parent, Jane Aspen, says: "My two were very fussy eaters before. It's so noticeable, that their tastes are so much wider because of what they are eating in the school."
Another parent, Pip Harris, concludes: "You'd have to be blind and deaf not to notice that food culture is a really big part of this school."
Other benefits are:

  • Affordable meals - £1.10 per meal for the younger children and £2 for the older children.
  • Inspring pupils - Seven year old, Edward, sells free-range eggs from his parents’ farm to the school kitchen.
  • Strong relationships with suppliers and the local farm.The children are well versed in where the food comes from, and are even given lessons in Butchery at Gonalston Farm.
  • More than 80% of the children grow vegetables at home now.
  • More than 98% of the children have spoken about healthy eating at home.
  • More than 90% of the parents are now cooking with their children at home.



The Food for Life Partnership is a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. Together we are revolutionising school meals, reconnecting children and young people with where their food comes from, and inspiring families to grow and cook food.

Big Lottery Fund

Soil Association Focus on Food Garden Organic Health Education Trust Royal Society for Public Health logo

© Food for Life Partnership 2013
Legal information - Accessibility