Energy to play and perform

It's great when teachers tell us how good, enjoyable food helps pupils to concentrate, pay attention, and study for exams.

As children develop into young adults, and many are starting to play sport seriously, the right food and nutrition are more important than ever in giving them the energy to play and perform on the sports field as well as in the classroom.

Our chefs have a fantastic resource to draw on. It's our own electronic recipe book, developed uniquely and exclusively for independent schools. Written by chefs for chefs, it captures entrepreneurial flair and banishes the average. It creates perfect, nutritionally analysed, costed recipes that use fresh ingredients in perfect proportions.

At the same time we are really proud of the fact that we have the freedom to create menus that are just right for varied tastes. Boys' and girls' likes and dislikes can be quite different when they're eleven. Our chefs love talking to them and being on theatre duty!

We run funky food workshops and 'meet the grower' days to show pupils where their food comes from, and explain the importance of seasonality and known provenance. Our junior chef superstar events are popular too. Pupils compete in heats over several weeks to win the school title. A grand final involving a ninety minute cook-off with pupils as the audience is judged by a top Chartwells Independent chef.

And you never know, our associate chefs Michel Roux Jr or Jason Atherton might just turn up to run a master class just for your school.

My reputation
was on the line

The bursar's story

Moving away from our existing arrangement was not a decision that I made lightly. After all, catering is one of the school's largest costs after staff salaries.
I wanted to be sure I could safely put our reputation in the hands of a catering company that I could trust.

I knew exactly what I was looking for - a proven track record, value for money, and complete transparency. I wanted to see open book accounting, with clearly shown charges and earnings. I definitely didn't want any surprises or hidden extras. I expected professional control of costs and inflation.

We've seen a transformation in the quality of our catering since appointing Chartwells Independent. I'm reassured every day by their reliable, responsible management and their level of commitment. Their accurate, monthly electronic billing makes cost control very simple.

There's very limited financial risk because they're prepared to guarantee key areas of expenditure within the budget. As part of the contract they've also offered us investment to improve the dining room, open a café and help reinstate a food technology classroom. We've also recently extended their contract to take care of all our housekeeping too - another important service I no longer have to worry about.

I feel very confident now that we can respond quickly and flexibly to deal with any unexpected issue, any change of requirements or even any request to host a big event at short notice.

It's reassuring
to know I can rely
on real experts

The head teacher's story

I'm convinced that nutritious, high quality food and healthy eating play a big part in helping our pupils to develop, learn and reach their full potential.

So it's reassuring to know that I can rely completely on real catering experts who can take care of that side of things allowing me to focus on providing the best education to our pupils. They understand our ethos, share our values, and act as a natural extension of our pastoral care.

I like the fact that the service we receive is unique to us and tailored exactly to what we need. That's the result of good listening and a strong working relationship. Catering is no longer an area I need to worry about or spend much time on. I'm confident it's in safe hands.

We've seen a transformation in quality. Change like that is never easy, but I hear great things about the way that Chartwells Independent has handled things with sensitivity. The catering team really seem to enjoy their work now, and our pupils' food horizons are definitely widening.

The hospitality events they run for us are raising our profile as well as bringing in new revenue.

It is also reassuring to know that the same company we trust with our food is also keeping things fresh and hygienic with a professional housekeeping service. We now have a much cleaner school without any of the worries.

It was the most
important decision
of our lives

The parents' story

Choosing to pay for private education was a big decision. So was choosing the right school. Good food was definitely a factor as part of that choice and because we know how important it is for development, we knew we'd hear about it pretty quickly if the food wasn't up to scratch!

So we wanted to be sure that our sons and daughters would be eating well in the hands of people who cared. We wanted to know that they'd get a well-balanced menu, freshly prepared in a safe environment, with healthy options, known provenance, a few treats, some comfort home foods, a wide variety of tastes, and international flavours as they got older. We wanted them to be fully satisfied by what they were eating, so they'd enjoy their time at school and wouldn't feel hungry.

When we learned about Chartwells Independent and their approach, any concerns we had melted away. We're happy we made the right choice.

I get the chance to educate my friends

The pupil's story

My friends make fun of me for eating the same thing every day. Well, I'm from Hong Kong, so of course I like Chinese food, but it's really good here. The chefs know how to make a wicked chow mein or stir fry that tastes almost as good as at home.

I have to admit that I'm quite picky about my food. I suppose that's because it's nice to have an authentic reminder of home every day. I only go back to Hong Kong each half term, and sometimes not even then.

So I like the fact that everyone has a Chinese option once a week. It gives me a chance to educate my friends about what really good food tastes like.

I thought it was the
end of my career

The catering manager's story

When I first heard the idea of an outside catering company coming in and taking over, I assumed that would be the end of my time here. Time to look for anew job, I thought.

Not a bit of it. What actually happened was that the Chartwells Independent team managed the transition with a care and sensitivity I'd have never expected. It wasn't going to be easy because people are naturally resistant to change, but they found the time to get to know every individual in the team and very quickly dispelled any fears they had. They handled all the TUPE and HR issues really well and won our staff over.

I can honestly say now that it's given me - and our entire team - a new lease of life. In a way, it has been like getting a new job. Things are just so much better than before and looking back, I can see that we'd become a bit set in our ways.

I'm part of a network of managers and a support structure now that I can tap into and share ideas with. There are opportunities every day to learn more and develop new skills. There's instant expert help and information for menu planning, nutritional advice, dealing with allergies, recruitment and changes in legislation.

The most important thing however, is that I've got my enthusiasm back. I feel proud again of the job I do, and proud of what I can achieve for the pupils at my school.

Nutrition and energy for top performance

The food development & nutritionist's story

Having our own in-house, dedicated team of qualified nutritionists is great for schools in so many ways.

It makes sure our nutritionally balanced menus and food offers are in line with the Food Standard Agency's Eatwell Plate guidelines. It means we can run workshops and assemblies that teach pupils the benefits of healthy eating. It lets us work one to one with pupils (and their parents) with special dietary needs.

Sports nutrition is another key area. We work closely with sports directors to make sure pupils have the amount of food, nutrition and energy they need to perform at their best. We've developed unique recipes for meals before sports, high energy packed lunches, snack items and post-sport meals to support recovery.

Excellent food and a clean school. They go together well

The housekeeping story

Isn't it reassuring to know that the same company we trust to provide pupils with healthy, nutritious food is also helping to keep their surroundings clean, fresh and hygienic?

Well, that was what we thought when we appointed Chartwells Independent to take care of our housekeeping contract too - and it's proved to be a really good move.

It starts with reception and the head's office - both very important as the first places that parents see when they visit our school. But it extends into all the environments where our pupils live, work and play - including classrooms, boarding houses, corridors, staffrooms, toilets and changing rooms.

We liked the way they took the time to really get to grips with what we needed. They put together a programme that would work around our timetable. The offer was very flexible too - giving us options for continuing to employ the cleaning staff but under their management, and choosing between having the whole school cleaned or leaving the boarding houses to us.

We're impressed by the advanced cleaning equipment they use to make the cleaners' jobs more effective and efficient. And they work to quality levels that are monitored in line with our service level agreements.

You can feel
the inspiration
of Michelin stars

The hospitality manager's story

We know we can rely completely on Chartwells Independent to handle anything we throw at them, from match day meals for visiting schools right up to open days, hired events, lets, conferences and balls.

I think that the match teas are especially important.We know that other sports teams judge us on the quality,and they're a type of shop window for visiting pupils and parents from other schools.

It's just so reassuring to know that there is this great network of professional chefs ready to support whatever we ask of them, with a huge amount of skill in high end hospitality. They reflect our image - perfectly.

You can see how they love to innovate and surprise but you know the consistently high standards are always there too. The training makes sure of that.

We can feel the personal inspiration of world-renowned chefs like Michel Roux Jr and Jason Atherton in many of our other hospitality events as well. We often organise fine dining for fundraising and enterprise activities. When it's all about presenting the school in the best possible light, Michelin star quality inspired food is a pretty good place to start.

Cooking from the
heart and serving
with passion

The training story

It might start with how to chiffonade an iceberg lettuce. It might go all the way through to a culinary arts degree. But in the end all our training comes down to one simple thing - inspiring chefs to create wonderful, healthy food that young people love to eat.

Cooking from the heart and serving with passion is vital. So we use the power of the white jacket, but we breakdown the kitchen walls too. Connecting the kitchen and the counter with knowledgeable, accessible chefs is the real key. It's how we see the smile on the faces. It's how we learn from the feedback.

We pay a lot of attention to how people - young people in particular - take new information on board. Auditory and kinesthetic techniques help us to encourage pupils to try new tastes, take a balanced meal and eat healthily.

The Michelin starred inspiration of our world-renowned associate chefs - Michel Roux Jr and Jason Atherton - is never far away. Our chefs regularly take part in national competitions and high level work placements to keep them passionate, invigorated and at the top of their professional game. Our training goes wide and deep too, from kitchen assistants to service teams. It includes a lot of e-learning and it covers everything from cleanliness, food hygiene and avoiding cross contamination to allergies, special dietary needs and sustainability.