Publication - Research publication

Evaluation of the Food Education Programme (2012-2015)

Published: 23 Mar 2016

Report evaluating how all nine projects have contributed to the programme’s overall outcomes.

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

Evaluation of the Food Education Programme (2012-2015)
Annex 1: Chefs@School - Federation of Chefs

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

Annex 1: Chefs@School - Federation of Chefs

Background to the project

128. This section provides background information to the project Chefs@School. It describes how the project came to life, discusses the project's aims, outcomes and budget.

Project description

129. Chefs@School was introduced into the FEP in 2013 and was funded by the Scottish Government and administered by the Federation of Chefs Scotland. Its overall aim is to encourage culinary and food industry professionals to work with teachers and children across Scotland to bring food education to life [4] .

130. Chefs@School is an initiative which aims to tap into the expertise and enthusiasm of professional chefs to add value to the school curriculum and accelerate the evolution of food culture in Scotland. It promotes partnership between chefs/cooks and schools to provide role models for young people and add value to food education activities.

131. The project engaged with schools through three main routes:

  • Individual work. In this format, chefs/cooks and teachers worked together to develop a lesson plan and hands-on activities. These events were tailored to individual schools, classes or even subject.
  • Cluster work. A group of schools worked together towards one project. Primary schools were usually grouped around their allocated secondary schools or in other instances; schools were grouped around their geographical location.
  • Major events. Chefs@School also had a presence at several national events such as: the Royal Highland Show, Eat Drink Discover Scotland, Healthy Living Awards or Scottish Chefs Conference.

132. The project was led by a project coordinator from Federation of Chefs. The coordinator's role was to facilitate the relationship between schools and chefs, run big events and support schools when they had difficulty finding a chef.

Project aims and outcomes

133. The overall aim of Chefs@School was to:

encourage culinary and food industry professionals to work with teachers and children across Scotland to bring food education to life.

134. Specifically, the objectives of the project were to:

  • Engage with chefs/cooks as role models and link schools and communities to a network of cooks/chefs
  • Engage with issues of local provenance, quality, health, environment, healthier choices, recipes, cost
  • Raise awareness of careers development in the industry and inspire young people about Scottish Food, and also the food, drink and hospitality industry
  • Work in alignment with the 'Principles for a partnership approach for the food and drink industry and other related organisations' publication [5]

135. The project's outcomes were defined as:

  • Learners will have enhanced skills in cooking with fresh, local produce
  • Chefs acting as role models demonstrate vocational pathways for learners
  • Learners will have gained understanding about seasonal produce and can apply that knowledge and understanding around seasonality to source, create and make nutritionally balanced meals
  • Adding value to the curriculum by using food as an interdisciplinary vehicle of knowledge

Project budget

  1. 136. In total the Scottish Government provided £100,000 of funding over the financial years 2013-2015. During the first year 2013-14 and to aid with set up costs, £64,000 was supplied. In the subsequent year 2014-15, funding was awarded of £36,000.

Progress on project delivery

137. In order to assess project delivery, an assessment was undertaken which drew upon information gathered from the various data provided, which included:

  • Individual projects' progress against targets set by the Scottish Government
  • Individual projects' achievement of project aims
  • Challenges faced
  • Feedback from the target populations on successful delivery and satisfaction
  • Identification of characteristics/features of success

Attainment of Scottish Government targets

138. In its short life, the project appeared to have been running successfully, meeting (and sometimes even exceeding) its milestones despite the challenging environment. Furthermore, self-reported satisfaction was high from both pupils and staff. The table that follows shows year on year progress towards achieving the project's targets.

Table 7: Chefs@School Progress towards achieving targets

Target Progress Status
Launch of the programme Programme was launched in September 2013 with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochead, Andrew Fairlie and representatives of the Federation of Chefs Scotland, Craft Guild of Chefs and Academy of Culinary Arts Achieved
Set up Steering Committee for the project Complete the steering committee met three times and consists of representatives from across the industry Achieved
Developing lessons plans with Education Scotland Collaborative approach - [no further detail provided] Achieved
Introductory materials and risk assessments Living document updated on a regular basis to keep track of legislative changes and developments Achieved
Evaluation mechanisms Teachers and pupil feedback forms have been devised. New mechanisms developed to ensure that we receive a satisfactory level of response we now have an online teacher response and pupil version comes online December 2014. Survey for chefs also designed. Achieved
Pupil numbers On track to deliver target Exceeded
Chefs@School newsletter Monthly update for schools and chefs sharing news and resources Achieved

139. Additionally, the project engaged in other activities which were not part of the original targets. These included taking part in a children's theatre at the Royal Highland Show in collaboration with QMS, an exhibition at the annual chef's conference or developing a joint CPD programme with the Royal Horticultural Society for teachers as part of the Grow Cook Eat Programme.

Achievement of project aims

140. Objective #1: Engage with Chefs as role models and link schools and communities to a network of cooks and chefs. Good progress was made in this area. During the first year, recruiting and retaining chefs was found very challenging, as such the project expanded its focus to also include school cooks. This new strategy was successful in expanding the reach of the programme.

141. Objective #2: Engage with issues of local provenance, quality, health, environment, healthier choices, recipes, cost. A range of different topics was discussed during the events. Lesson plans were developed in collaboration with teachers to fit the curriculum activities of the specific school/cluster.

142. Objective #3: Raise awareness of careers development in the industry and inspire young people about Scottish Food, and also the food, drink and hospitality industry. From the reports provided by the project coordinator, it appeared that chefs/cooks played a pivotal role in providing and explaining the link between food and careers in the industry. Furthermore, collaboration with other food education partners such as Seafood in Schools strengthened the link between the project activities and future career options in the sector.

143. Objective #4: Work in alignment with the "Principles for a partnership approach for the food and drink industry and other related organisations" publication. No data was provided to support progress towards this objective.

144. From the data available, the project seemed to make good progress towards achieving its pre-defined objectives. This was particularly the case in regards to providing a clear link between industry (in the form of chefs and cooks) and schools.


145. A face to face interview with the project coordinator was conducted following completion of Chefs@School first year (2013-14). A set of challenges inhibiting the smooth run of the project were identified.

146. The main challenge encountered by Chefs@School was to recruit and retain chefs. The project coordinator reported that the high level of job rotation in the industry had made it difficult for them to sustain a long term relationship between a chef and a school.

147. Moreover, the project coordinator also noted that some schools overworked the chefs. As a result, chefs became overwhelmed by what the schools were asking of them and therefore the relationship between the school and chef suffered or broke down.

148. Another challenge encountered by the project coordinator was that many primary school teachers felt unsure about their skills and abilities to deliver food education.

149. In order to overcome these hurdles, Chefs@School worked intensively to strengthen the relationship between schools and chefs. Constant communication and relationship management (mediation between schools and chefs) appeared key for the success of the project.

150. An area for improvement highlighted by the project coordinator was around greater and further collaboration among food education partners: ' All the programmes working together and collaborating as we have been doing in the last year has seen a huge benefit. What we could do more of, is sitting down with the Local Authorities, working at a local authority level - we know of programmes that are going over area and they can maximise efforts together' [6] .

Feedback from target populations

151. On completion of events, Chefs@School surveyed both teachers and pupils. Results of these surveys were collated and reported to Scottish Government annually.

152. Response rates from teachers were on the whole fairly low, with 33% of teachers taking the time to complete the questionnaire during 2013-14 (n=30) and 29% during 2014-15 (n=27) [7] . Time was highlighted as the main barrier for giving feedback [8] . In order to increase response rates, some teachers were spoken to on the phone and their feedback was recorded from those conversations.

153. Overall, teachers who responded to the survey provided positive feedback. A summary of key findings is reported below. Further detail of the survey results can be found in the chapter, Progress on Programme Outcomes - Learning and Behaviour Change.

  • All teachers who responded rated the event as either good or average
  • All teachers who responded to the survey strongly agreed that using chefs and cooks for the delivery of food education improves the engagement of students in the subject.
  • All teachers who responded to the survey also agreed strongly that chefs and cooks have the ability to deliver messages of health and nutrition in an appealing way to young people.
  • Willingness to engage further with the project was high with a majority of teachers who completed the survey (80%) reporting that they had invited the chef to come back to work with the children again. Most teachers (80%) have also planned follow up activities in relation to the event.

154. Self-completion questionnaires were given to pupils following their participation at events. Around 500 pupils returned feedback forms each year. In line with teachers' experience, among those pupils who responded to the survey, feedback was also positive:

  • 85% of pupils said they had enjoyed the lesson.
  • 70% said they had tried the food demonstrated or that they had made.

155. All in all, feedback from teachers and pupils alike was highly positive. They all appeared to have enjoyed the lessons and were keen to be involved again.

Key features of success

156. In the two years that the project has been implemented as part of the FEP, it successfully met or exceeded all its targets. It also engaged with activities over and above the initial requirement.

157. The project coordinator played a significant role in the success of the project, not only taking the administrative role but also recruiting chefs, matching them with schools, creating resources, supporting chefs with training and materials, mediating relationships, etc…

158. Furthermore and despite its infancy, the project was a key contributor to the overall level of opportunities created. At a national level, 6% of all primary and 15% of all secondary schools engaged with the project.

159. Chefs@School continuously sought a collaborative approach with other food education projects including RHET, Seafood in Schools and Education Scotland. This took the form of joint project ventures by for example using chefs to explain how to cook/prepare seafood (in the context of Seafood in Schools).

160. The project was also heavily involved in CPD and resource development and there was a self-reported positive impact on learning and behaviour change.

Progress on Programme Outcomes

161. This section focuses on the impact that Chefs@School has had on the wider FEP outcomes of Opportunities, Embeddedness, Investment and Learning and Behaviour Change. Each outcome is discussed in turn.


162. This section reports on progress towards the overall programme outcome: Opportunities to learn about food are provided to young people.

163. Since its launch, Chefs@School provided over 20,300 opportunities for pupils to learn about food, with a yearly growth of 56%. The target of reaching 15,000 interactions by June 2015 was exceeded three months in advance.

164. There was a high degree of collaboration with other projects, in particular with Seafood in Schools. Out of the 12,345 opportunities created during 2014-15, around 2,500 were through cluster events in partnership with Seafood in Schools.

165. The high level of opportunities created was linked to the amount of effort invested in recruiting new schools. The total number of schools engaged during the first year of the project was 63, this increased to 184 the following year. While in absolute numbers there were significantly more primary than secondary schools involved during 2014-15, it should be noted that this represents only 6% of all primary schools across Scotland compared to 15% of all secondary schools.

166. Details of opportunities created over time are shown in the table below:

Table 8: Chefs@School Opportunities Created Over Time

FEP: Year 1 2012-13 FEP: Year 2 2013-14 FEP: Year 3 2014-15
Pupil opportunities created n/a 7,950 12,345
No of schools engaged 63 184
- of which primaries 29 131
- of which secondaries 34 53

167. During 2014-15, further detail was provided as to how the 12,345 opportunities were created. This were split as follows:

  • Just over 9,000 opportunities for pupils to learn about food were delivered through direct project interaction
  • Over 2,500 took place via cluster events in collaboration with Seafood in Schools, and
  • 855 opportunities were further achieved through other collaborative events.

168. The map below shows the geographical spread of Chefs@School over time. As shown in the map, the project's coverage however, was heavily focused on the Central Belt, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Image 3: Chefs@School geographical coverage



169. This section discusses Chefs@School progress towards the overall programme outcome: Food education activities are embedded in the curriculum and teachers appreciate food as a learning resource and are confident to deliver food related learning.

170. The following indicators were identified as appropriate to measure progress towards the Embeddedness outcome:

  • Number of Food education CPD events
  • Number of teachers attending CPD events regarding food events
  • Feedback from CPD (or other events) indicating positive impacts on learning, enthusiasm and confidence
  • Resources - range, availability and feedback on use

171. Chefs@School appeared to have been very active in delivering against this outcome. The project interacted with teachers through major events such as the Scottish Learning Festival or Early Years Practitioners Day and through work with other projects such as RHET Food & Farming Days.

172. During the first year of the project, around 250 interactions with teachers were reported. During the second year, this increased significantly to 400 interactions.

173. Participating teachers were asked by Chefs@School to complete a feedback form. The majority of teachers (80% of those who completed the survey) said they had done some continued learning as a result of participating in the Chefs@School event. Most teachers had invited the chef/cook to come back to their school.

174. All teachers who responded agreed that using chefs improves students' engagement in food education.

175. The project was not only active in delivering training and support for teachers. In fact, the main focus on training during the first year of the project's life had been for the chefs. All Chefs interacting with schools received a welcome pack including training resources as well as personal guidance from the project coordinator. The materials were constantly updated to keep up to date with legal developments around mainly Health & Safety.

176. Resources evolved during the second year (2014-15), to also add some specific guidance and materials for the use of teachers. Lesson plans were also developed in collaboration with Education Scotland.

177. From feedback forms collected by Chefs@School, teachers were very happy with the format and content of the events rating them either as Excellent or Good.

178. All teachers who responded to the survey agreed that taking part in the event inspired students to be more health and environmentally aware. Subjects covered in the events were: Health & Wellbeing (100%), Technologies (80%), Social Studies (20%) and Sciences (20%).

179. All in all, the project demonstrated a sense of commitment in ensuring that food education activities are embedded in the curriculum. A range of resources were created and kept up to date. Lessons plans were developed in partnership with Education Scotland and shared with teachers and chefs alike. Teachers were approached through a variety of different major events and feedback from these sessions and the resources were positively welcomed.


180. Another outcome of the programme was with regards the level of investment generated from industry. The outcome was defined as: industry investment in food education is demonstrated and has increased/continues to increase, with commitment of industry to continue with engagement/partnerships.

181. Originally Chefs@School aimed to recruit solely chefs to provide food education. However, the recruitment of chefs proved quite challenging for the project coordinator due not only to the high level of job rotation in the industry but also to the impact of the recession on labour available at restaurants. Some businesses lost staff and did not replace them to save costs [9] .

182. In response, Chefs@School expanded the scope of the programme to include school cooks. The rationale behind this was that cooks already work at the school and must have acquired nutritional training. In order to aid with the recruitment of cooks, the project coordinator attended major facilities manager conferences.

183. A total of 31 chefs/cooks took part in the project each year.

184. The level of in-kind investment received by the project more than doubled between the first and second year of the project. At a total level, equivalent to 67% of Scottish Government funding was raised and added to the funding the project received from the Scottish Government. Funding available to the project is reported in the table that follows.

Table 9: Chefs@School Investment

FEP: Year 1 2012-13 FEP: Year 2 2013-14 FEP: Year 3 2014-15
Scottish Government investment n/a £64,000 £36,000
In-kind investment from industry and other external partners £21,400 £45,800

185. In the two years that Chefs@School has operated as part of the FEP, it has developed significant engagement from industry. Not only through the recruitment of chefs/cooks but also through high levels of in-kind investment from industry and other external partners. During 2014-15, for example, the amount of in-kind investment received surpassed Scottish Government funding.

Learning and Behaviour Change

186. The two last outcomes of the programme are in relation to learning and behaviour change: Knowledge and awareness regarding food has increased; and Positive change in attitudes/intention/ behaviour regarding food issues, food choices and career options.

187. Like other FEP projects, Chefs@School collected feedback from pupils and teachers on learning. It has not been possible to assess behaviour change using the information collected. However, a qualitative assessment based on attitude/intention/behaviour change through the feedback forms completed by teachers and pupils has been carried out.

188. In relation to knowledge and awareness of food, the information collected via feedback forms, pointed to a high level of satisfaction and enthusiasm about the event. The majority of pupils (over 80%) each year said they enjoyed the lessons. Over 70% tried the food made by chefs in cooking demonstrations or that they had made themselves. Of those that tried the food cooked, around 75% said they enjoyed it.

189. From teacher feedback forms, it was evident that there was a high level of enjoyment and enthusiasm as a result of taking part in the Chefs@School event. Feedback forms were distributed and collected during the first two years of the project. Results reported below are for the first year of the project, but this remained very stable over time.

  • 100% strongly agreed that using chefs and cooks for the delivery of food education improved the engagement of students in the subject
  • 100% strongly agreed that chefs and cooks had the ability to deliver messages of health and food nutrition in an appealing way to young people
  • 80% strongly agree (20% agree slightly) that after taking part in the event, students were more aware of opportunities for career development in Hospitality

190. The feedback also suggested a willingness to cook more at home with 85% of participating pupils each year stating they would cook more at home. The extent to how much this has translated into actual behaviour outside the school gates is beyond the scope of this evaluation.


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