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LACA creates Professional Standards to help develop school catering workforce

3rd May 2024 - 04:00
Beverley Baker
LACA has created a powerful tool to help school meal providers to develop their school catering workforce. Beverley Baker, who chairs the Membership Group, outlines the Standards and the benefits of working with them.

The UK’s school workforce is bigger than the Royal Navy with more than 80,000 people involved in providing school meals for some five million children each school day. It’s a complex environment yet there were no nationally laid down standards which describe the knowledge, skills or behaviours that a person working in the industry needs.

That is until the Professional Standards were developed by industry employers, educators and practitioners to define that required knowledge and those skills and behaviours so an individual knows what is to be achieved and what is expected of them to perform best in their role.

They are not only a way for all catering staff to see how they are doing in relation to what can be achieved, they are also designed to raise the profile and image of school catering staff and the school catering service.

By their very practical and industry specific nature, embedding these standards in the workplace raises standards, ensures consistency in practice and they can also ensure that the rest of the hospitality sector can see the amazing jobs being done in our school kitchens and dining rooms.

Five standards have been developed to cover the main roles found in the school dining environment:

  • Head of Kitchen (Catering Manager/Head Chef)
  • School Cook
  • Assistant Cook
  • General Catering/Kitchen Assistant
  • Midday Supervisor

Each of the five standards is set out in a table with elements of the role and what you would expect as an output to demonstrate what Knowledge (Know It) is required, what Skills are necessary to (Show It) and what Behaviours should be demonstrated to (Live It) by a person working to the correct standard.

There isn’t one defined way to use these standards, they can be flexibly implemented in your environment, whatever your procedures and processes.

You can make them suit your workplace whether you are an individual school or academy, or a catering organisation operating many sites across an area. The approach focusses on the output of what someone is expected to do, rather than the qualifications or training they should achieve.

So the standards do not specify any required training or qualifications. The training you actually deliver in the workplace is determined by your workplace. LACA features a roll of honour recognising all using the standards and has a shout out to celebrates success at the Main Event. And those recognised receive a certificate.

If there are other catering teams working on using the Standards, then do please apply for recognition on the Roll of Honour by completing the form at the back of the booklet and submitting your evidence.

A number of organisations have already adopted the Professional Standards to help staff understand what is expected of a school caterer, and to identify how they can both meet the minimum requirements and then develop their skills for career advancement.

As each has taken the Standards up and implemented them it is evaluated by LACA and, if successful, awarded a certificate and added to a Roll of Honour that is viewable on the LACA website.

The very first was SIPS, the not-for-profit education support services provider for Sandwell, the Black Country and the West Midlands. It has since been joined by councils and catering teams operating in schools in Nottingham, Leicester and Hampshire.

There are clear benefits to adopting the standards and I encourage you then to implement them. Information about the standards can be found in the brochure describing the five standards which can be found on the LACA website.

Written by
Edward Waddell