Chefs Back to School

The Programme

Our Chefs Back to School programme took place throughout 2018 and 2019. Student chefs returned to their original secondary school. They provided a practical demonstration to an examination class and described their own course and future career prospects to pupils at the school.  

The project : 

  • Achieved hundreds of hospitality and catering students to go back to their secondary schools
  • On their visit, student chefs met pupils, teaching staff and headteachers, increasing the visibility of this valuable subject, creating a talking point and photo opportunity in school of a successful ex-student.
  • Up-skilled the student chefs to confidently demonstrate their culinary skills in order to enthuse other young people about Hospitality & Catering courses, and the benefits of a career within the food industry. Post school visit, student chefs reflected on how much they have learned on their course which will boost their self-esteem, as well as improving their planning and presentation skills.
  • Provided secondary school food teachers with first-hand up to date information about local courses and careers, so that they are better equipped to give accurate careers advice to pupils and parents during ‘options’ meetings
  • Forge a sustainable, long term partnership between local schools and colleges to increase recruitment to local catering and hospitality courses and provide support between them.

We chose student chefs rather than tutors to visit schools. Our research shows that it is increasingly difficult for tutors to find the time within their busy schedules to carry out meaningful outreach work. Using student chefs is a more sustainable model, it is easily scalable nationwide and school pupils will be able to identify with student chefs who are closer to their own age group.

We learned that students returning to school transformed pupil aspirations, particularly those in households that had never been to college or university (such as families of three generations unemployed). 

Why is this project needed?

  1. A recent on-line survey of food teachers supported OFSTED findings (2016 Enterprise Education) that out of 40 schools only 4 were providing careers advice. They describe that since government-funded careers services ended in 2012, that careers advice has not been kept up. 85% food teachers said careers advice had reduced significantly.  
  2. Teachers also stated that they struggle to find time and up to date information to promote Hospitality and Catering careers, even though they knew it was important for the future of the subject and to get good ‘option’ take up for GCSE/Level 2.  All of the teachers said that they would value support when presenting to pupils or parents and would like better links with local course providers or apprenticeships.
  3. Our meetings with Hospitality and Catering colleges found that they are all concerned about recruitment for courses and the time it takes to build and sustain relationships with local schools.  Whilst they run Junior Chefs Academies, Taster and Open days, their outreach work has become limited to visiting just a few schools due to staff time shortage. In the pilot, they responded that using students chefs is a more sustainable model, as they can reach a significant number of schools more quickly and thus have greater impact on recruitment. 

You can still register and we will be in touch when funding for the programme has been found

To register for this project if you are a school or a college please click here

Support us

We are looking for funders to help us with this programme. The pilot project was supported by the Savoy Educational Trust in 2018. The team donated 50% costs.  We are keen to partner with others to extend the reach of the project by 2022. Please contact us  if you would like to become a funding partner.


The Chefs Back to School project has been supported by the Savoy Educational Trust.  For further information on the Trust go to the website