East Sheen Primary School is a state primary school in Southwest London. The school is passionate about school food issues. Long before school dinners became a hot topic, ESPS was changing how it sourced, prepared, cooked and served food to primary school children. To enhance this ethos further and really get children understanding nutrition and where food comes from, ESPS embarked on the ambitious plan of installing a kitchen where the children could learn to cook for themselves.
Ann Marie at Amo Espaco teamed up with the enthusiastic Headship Team and talented parent volunteers to make this happen. Over the next year, the needs of the project were analysed, the design process undertaken and pitches to three major sponsors made. Ann Marie and superparent David Roberts won sponsorship from Robert Dyas for the cookware and Neff for the appliances and combined with herculean fund raising efforts from the ESPS PTA, the project was ready to go ahead.
Demoliton began the day after school finished for the summer break and the new kitchen was opened in September 2010 with local media coverage.
The project has succeeded in its objective of helping children understand where their food comes from, broadening their experience of different food groups and learning the life skill of cooking for themselves. Combine that with a relationship with a local organic farmer and a thriving allotment project and East Sheen has now got children growing and cooking their own food.
The school teaching kitchen has sparked a lot of interest. The team at Jamie Oliver visited the school to see how ESPS does things as part of their Kitchen Garden initiative.
Chefs Paul Merrett and Tom Aikens have cooked with the children in the kitchen, with Tom’s group preparing a pudding for the Great British Menu. The kitchen has been used as the launchpad for the Innocent Smoothies national Campaign “Taste Not Waste”. https://youtu.be/7Nb57CLBDiI along with visits from other schools aiming to do what ESPS has done. The video shows just how many children can be involved in a hands-on, fun learning experience about food, where the children are truly participating as opposed to watching an adult do it for them – this is what ESPS and its kitchen are all about.