Blyth primary school teaches people new kitchen skills

A primary school in Blyth is running cookery sessions to help families on limited budgets cook tasty meals from scratch.

By Joshua Wright
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 5:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 5:48 pm

As more people struggle to cope with the cost of living crisis, the lessons at St Wilfrid’s could not be more timely and organisers say they have been a success.

The school is part of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, which runs 39 schools across the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. It provided the initial funding for the project, which could soon be rolled out to other schools in the Trust.

Hosted by chef Lee Robson, the sessions are being held in classrooms which are usually used for art and music lessons during regular school hours.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Students and their families enjoy a cookery workshop after school at St Wilfrid's Primary School in Blyth.

All eight spaces available were soon snapped up, and the only absences so far have been because of child illness.

Attendees are given recipe sheets to take away, so they can cook at home.

Head teacher Pauline Johnstone said: “We were aware that more families were accessing local food banks and our own school food bank as the cost of living rose, and we could see many families were not confident about making healthy meals cooked from scratch on a budget.

“But this isn’t just about food, it’s about family bonding too. Younger siblings and some grandparents also attend and, in some cases, parents have re-arranged other commitments or got other family members to attend with the children."

Mrs Johnstone said the feedback had been hugely positive, with some parents even offering to help run future sessions.

She added: “Healthy diet is essential to mood and school performance. We were part of the National Breakfast Programme where cereal and bagels were provided to all children through our classroom breakfast scheme.“We now work with Magic Breakfast to supply a bagel to every child in school every day and as a result of this subsidised scheme, we have been able to cut the cost of breakfast club, only charging for the childcare element.

“Trust chief executive Anita Bath helped get us started in the first place, and she’s very much treating this as a pilot scheme.”