Pupils inspired by industry professionals at Yes Chef! celebration event

24th June 2024

‘Project in a Box’ is held annually and provides SYCU-subscribed schools across the region with a free box that includes activities and hands-on challenges to support pupils to learn new skills around a specific topic.

This year’s project – Yes Chef! – aimed to help pupils build up their culinary skills as well as teaching them about healthy eating, meal planning, batch-cooking, and using leftovers. They also learned about the role of food banks and food saving apps.

Children were given a ‘takeaway’ set of top tips to share with parents and carers, supporting the pupils to share their learning with families at home, and weekly home challenge activities. There were also sessions on marketing, food hygiene, packaging, and labelling, all backed up by a series of case studies on ‘real life’ people in these roles, as well as the essential life skills needed to succeed.

Pupils at 35 schools in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield took part in the project throughout the academic year.

More than 100 pupils and teachers took part in the celebration event to mark the end of the project at Glide House on Tuesday (18 June).

At the event sponsored by the Loadhog Foundation, pupils took part in activities including identifying herbs and unusual fruits, a demonstration by a professional chef before baking brownies along side them. They tried their (steady) hand in some silver service skills, as well as creating art with fruit, veg and other dried foods. The children also designed a healthy snack as part of a competition which was judged on the day.

Bethany Gillespie, Y4 class teacher at Burton Road Primary School, Barnsley, said: “What I’ve loved about today was to see the children in my class in a different environment. It was fantastic to be able to show the children a different career pathway in such an engaging way.

“As far as Yes Chef! goes it’s been really nice to be able to demonstrate to the children that you can eat healthily without spending a fortune. Overall, it’s been really satisfying to see my class thrive in a different environment.”

Hollie, a Y4 pupil at Burton Road Primary School, said: “My favourite activity was the unusual fruits.

 I tried three fruits that I’ve never tried before and I liked all of them!

“In school we did cooking and we cooked omelettes and chicken nuggets from scratch. I even made an omelette at home.

“Today I learnt that I like new fruits, like physalis, which I’d never tried before and I really liked it. We also made some brownies and met the chefs.

The Children’s University is a national initiative that celebrates participation in learning activities and opportunities outside of normal school hours. The South Yorkshire Children’s University is a strategic partnership supported by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University which aims to share good practice and develop collaborative projects for the benefit of all young people and families in the region. 

Dave Forrest, Deputy Vice-President for Education at the University of Sheffield, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to join so many local schools to celebrate this important and timely South Yorkshire Children’s University project. 

“The skills and enthusiasm the children demonstrated on the day are a testament to just how much they’ve learnt over the past year. These are invaluable skills that will undoubtedly benefit them and their families for many years to come.

“A big thank you to the team and the many local schools who’ve put so much time and effort into making this initiative a success.”

Professor Helen Scott, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning, Teaching and Student Success at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We are proud to support the South Yorkshire Children’s University. The programme gives children and young people the opportunity to enrich their childhoods, nurture a lifelong love of learning, unlock their skills and talents and develop their aspirations and confidence, regardless of their backgrounds.

“This project is an excellent example of how Children’s University uses fun and creative ways to give children and their families important knowledge and life skills.”

A Yes Chef! recipe book, sponsored and published by Loadhog Foundation, made up of each school’s favourite recipes of the project was given out at the event.   

Karen Hobson, Loadhog Foundation Chairwoman, said: “The Loadhog Foundation is proud to support the Children’s University and its Yes Chef! project. It has been great to see so many local schools getting involved, supporting children by providing skills they will use throughout their whole life’s. It’s been a pleasure to work with the Children’s University over the last year, and we are proud to be helping make a difference.”

We’re looking forward to seeing how the Yes Chef! cooking clubs continue in the SYCU schools, broadening the learning to more and more pupils each year, and hopefully, we’ll see some of these pupils working in these professions in the not-too-distant future.

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