At Christ Church SW9 teachers are sharing Jamie Oliver’s vision to revolutionise young peoples knowledge of food and cooking, and they join him on a mission to “create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity”.
This article was originally published in the March 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine. You can order your printed version of the UKEdMagazine by Clicking here, or freely read the Online Version by Clicking here.
Far from a new discussion, the need for schools to adopt a strong food curriculum has gained speed in recent years. The introduction of the Food Plan in 2013 saw the announcement of Boris’s two flagship boroughs, which named the school as a flagship school, and has placed Christ Church at the forefront of change. The school staff are keen to tackle the challenges children and families face in a modern society; 1 in 5 children in the UK are already overweight or obese by the age of 5 and 1 in 3 children are affected by child obesity by the age of 11.
Food education is just as valuable as the traditionally more important maths, reading and writing. The school believes without a sound understanding of how to supplement our bodies in the right way, we cannot expect to lead healthy lives. Christ Church does this is many ways with a vibrant and rewarding curriculum; exciting projects, cooking lessons, growing, cultivating and harvesting.
Children, their families and the local community are inspired by all that goes on inside this inner city primary as staff aim to increase understanding of how diet impacts on health. Where many have been defeated by the limitations of an urban setting, Christ Church has thrived. Over the past year, the children and staff have been creative with space; they brainstormed and worked together to enhance the facilities to produce the dynamic and inspiring environment that greets those who enter
. Picture this on a brisk spring morning. As you walk upstairs towards the staff room for a well-deserved cup of tea and healthy breakfast bar, you hear the quacking of ducks coming from the roof. The ducks, recently hatched on site and roaming freely on the rooftop, have proudly left a clutch of eggs. In addition to the ducks, the school boasts a beautiful rooftop garden, where herbs and fruits are cultivated and brought through to the Food Lab for preparation and cooking.
The ‘Food Lab’ is where the real magic happens. At its busiest, the space resembles a professional kitchen, only with smaller chefs. Children and adults work together to chop, grate, dice, and steam their way to healthier lives. They learn how to prepare and put together healthy recipes and snacks and develop a love and passion for food.
At first glance this all appears a well planned exercise, but as a member of Jamie’s Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project, the school are lucky enough to have a wealth resources and recipes to work from, and it provides great cross-curricular links for children; reading recipes, measuring ingredients, developing dexterity. The children at Christ Church understand the journey of food; how to grow it, cook it and make healthy food choices. Children who learn to cook and understand healthy eating are confident in the kitchen and are enabled to make better food choices. Classes of children take charge of planting and nurturing produce, once ready the children harvest and are able to prepare, cook, eat and share what they’ve made.
On Friday afternoons the school has both a gardening and cooking club, where children practice their skills and learn in a mixed-age group setting. Food education doesn’t stop with the children though; the school also provide cooking skill classes for both parents and the community. A school providing such a purposeful and creative approach to food education leaves visitors feeling inspired and hopeful about the future, but they are not the only people paying attention. Most recently, Jamie Oliver visited Christ Church ahead of his Food Revolution Day on May 15th. He met with staff and head teachers to discuss children’s nutrition and the need for all schools to follow this primary’s lead. Through its strong commitment to sharing great practice and training schools around Lambeth, we can all be assured that this smaller than average primary is taking big steps in the fight against childhood obesity.
Sarah Wordlaw is a Year 4/5 teacher at Christ Church Primary SW9, we are located in Brixton. Our school twitter account is @christchurchsw9. See more of what we do on our website at christchurchschool.cc