At Rhyl Primary School, we believe that learning to cook is a vital life skill. Food education is at the heart of our creative curriculum and our pupils already grow food in our award-winning Outdoor Classroom. This project aims to raise funds to build our own teaching kitchen so that we can extend teaching about food and cooking for our children and the local community.
Rhyl is a large community primary school in Kentish Town, North London, with more than 460 pupils. The proportion of children supported by the pupil premium is above the national average (the pupil premium is additional government funding for pupils known to be eligible for free school meals and the main indicator of deprivation). A well above average proportion of pupils speak English as an additional language and come from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Our old school building, built in the 1890’s, severely restricts the scope of our ambitions - we do not have a room designed for teaching cookery, nor do we have any spare space of sufficient size in which to build one. As a result, staff are forced to teach cookery in the classrooms, carrying equipment from room to room. This severely limits the range of our teaching. Our pupils have no access to ovens and hobs. We are also unable to offer high quality food education workshops to the parents and wider community.
More widely, in our area of London there is an acute need for education around healthy eating. Rhyl is in the Haverstock Ward of Camden, where diet-related disease is one of the biggest causes of illness and premature death. 45.9% of Year Six pupils display excessive weight (29% are obese) compared with a national average of 33.5%. Child poverty is extremely high, with 51% of children living in income deprived households compared to 21.8% nationwide.
Later in life, premature causes of death in this area from circulatory disease and coronary heart disease are notably high, as illustrated in the table below. Early intervention with families at primary age is crucial to reduce this.
We have identified the ideal site in the school grounds for building a modern teaching kitchen. It will be located in a space currently used as a car park and Outdoor Classroom. Our artist’s vision is below. Design specifications are included at the end of the booklet.
This solution has a wide range of benefits:
• The proposed site allows us to build a large and flexible space of 58m² that can be used for both teaching cookery and to host other workshops and meetings.
• The site is at the rear of the school in an area independent of the main playground and school building but is linked by a gated walkway. This means the space can be securely used when the main school is closed so we can offer the kitchen as a resource for the wider community.
• The site is adjacent to our edible garden which enables us to teach from ‘plot to plate’, amplifying the impact of our educational programme.
• The design of the building allows for large roof garden space. This will increase the area we have to grow food and range of crops that will thrive due to its sunny aspect.
• This site avoids the option of converting an existing space within the main school building which would entail a loss of a teaching space. This is not acceptable given the current pressure on accommodation in the school and rising numbers of children in the borough requiring school places.