Passing it on – Four schools in the East of England pass on their knowledge and skills

Resource: Case study Age: All Skills: Pass it on

Four flagship schools in the east of England successfully ran a programme of Pass It On events at very low cost and with dazzling success. Forty schools attended across the four events. Here’s how they did it.

Case study 1 – Barkway VA Primary School

Barkway VA First School is a very small school with big ideas. Situated in rural North Hertfordshire, the school has only 46 pupils on its roll. Barkway wanted to demonstrate how the Food for Life Partnership works in a small space and with limited resources, and so invited 30 primaries in the vicinity for afternoon tea. The heads, teachers and school cooks of six primary schools attended.


  • College Farm in Duxford came into the school to talk to the guests about where wheat comes from and how to mill grain for flour.
  • Pupils at Barkway made seasonal afternoon tea in the staff room to demonstrate First School level cooking skills.
  • The guests were shown how the school had made use of its playground to make a small garden.
  • The guests were served Silver standard afternoon tea, which included the muffins made by the children earlier in the day.

What worked well?

A good mix of local headteachers and Local Authority caterers attended the event, which was expertly organised by the school’s Food for Life Partnership lead Vanessa Clarkand headteacher Jenny Heinzelmann. The activities were varied, successfully demonstrating how the school manages to make the Food for Life Partnership work in such a small space and with limited resources.

What didn’t work so well?

The invitations sent out to the 30 primary schools weren’t targeted, which meant that Barkway could have missed out on maximum attendance.

Case study 2 – Sweyne Park Secondary School

Sweyne Park in Raleigh, Essex, is a very successful and oversubscribed 11-16 community comprehensive. The school invited eight cluster/feeder schools to lunch from the region; six attended, bringing two staff and four children from each school.


  • The children were invited to make fruit kebabs and smoothies with pupils from Sweyne Park.
  • The guests were shown the school garden, where they tasted herbs, made newspaper plant pots and had a go at planting.
  • The guests were put in aprons and chef hats and taught a few practical cooking skills by the school catering manager Karen May in the school’s professional kitchen.
  • Lunch was served, using freshly prepared produce chosen specifically to encourage children to try new, healthy and seasonal food.

What worked well?

Sweyne Park used the invitation and RSVP to enrol some of the schools onto the Food for Life Partnership programme, which was highly successful. Invited schools had to send back a completed enrolment form in order to attend the event.

The school also made sure that the workload was shared among staff and that pupils were involved. The activities allowed the guests to get stuck in, which was far more interesting than being talked at, and there were plenty of goodies for children to take back to share with school. They took home fruit smoothies in takeaway cups, fruit kebabs, bunches of herbs, recipes, paper plant pots with seeds planted in them, and nibbles made in the school kitchen.

What didn’t work so well?

Time overran slightly in workshops so not all the guest could stay until the end.

Case study 3 – Wells Park

Wells Park in Chigwell, Essex, is a special school for children aged 5 - 11 with emotional and behaviourial difficulties. The school invited 20 schools (including every special school in the county) to Every Chicken Matters, the professional development day for teachers and cooks;12 schools attended, bringing one teaching/groungs staff and one cook per school.


  • The guests were introduced to the Food for Life Partnership and the importance of chicken welfare.
  • In the school kitchen, the group talked about sourcing high welfare chicken and chicken recipes, before tasting some choice pieces of chicken.
  • The guests were taken through to the garden, where they were given some pointers on how to keep chickens in school by a guest speaker and expert on chicken rearing.
  • Fresh fruit from the local grocer, and biscuits and snacks freshly prepared to Silver standard in the school kitchen was served.

What worked well?

Wells Park found that the topic, Every Chicken Matters, appealed to a large number of schools. The activities were engaging and informative, which meant that guests had a lot of useful facts and advice to take back to their respective schools. In the plenary session, schools were given the chance to enrol on the Food for Life Partnership and to ask more questions.
The event was widely advertised well in advance, and this contributed to the high number of responses, although the timing (1pm to 5pm), location and accessibility of the event, were also key to its success.

What didn’t work so well?

Wells Park’s involvement in the event was not as integrated as it could have been. Much of the event was organised by the school’s catering team, and some of the sessions overran, meaning groups weren’t able to share what they had learned with the rest of the guests.

Case study 4 – Gallywood Infant School

Galleywood Infant School is based in Chelmsford, Essex. It is a thriving school with a large outdoor area, enabling the staff and children to make the most of their previously untapped growing skills. The school invited 18 primaries in the area to find out how the school achieved Bronze with the Food for Life Partnership; 14 attended, represented by 1 to 2 staff per school.


  • In collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society, the guests were shown how to plant indoors and on windowsills.
  • The group discussed techniques for teaching cookery to different Key Stages, and cooked a few choice recipes from the Focus on Food team.
  • The guests were shown the resident wormery, which led to discussions on composting.
  • Tea, coffee and cold drinks were provided, and all participants took home food they’d cooked during the session.

What worked well?

The event took place after school from 4pm to 5:30pm, and this allowed more schools to participate. The headteacher was instrumental in securing such excellent attendance, and the enthusiastic direction and involvement of Galleywood staff made it all the more enjoyable.

The workshops were varied and directly applicable to staff, meaning they had a lot of new ideas to take back to their schools. Working in partnership with RHS was also very successful, and was a major draw for schools. Alison Findlay from RHS has often collaborated with the Food for Life Partnership, sharing ideas and helping out at workshops and events.

What didn’t work so well?

Activities slightly overran, which meant there was no time for a plenary session at the end to reinforce message or follow-up on earlier discussions, and very few attendees had the authority to enrol schools with the Food for Life Partnership.

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.

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