Standing on the edge

The exams are over. The grades are secured. University places or adventurous gap years are just weeks away. We share your sense of pride when we see how pupils have grown into confident, rounded individuals, standing on the edge of being ready to make their own way in the world.

But before then, of course, there are all the exciting challenges of the sixth form. Food here takes on a more adult dimension - including all-day coffee shops like Costa that provide the time and space to take a break with friends in an environment that matches anything on the high street.

We can take students to an advanced level in food preparation, with our on-site chefs and catering managers getting involved and sharing their expertise.

Then there are practical eight week sessions where students can live the experience of creating menus, understanding food hygiene and service, acting as waiters or kitchen support, and producing fine dining as a fund raiser or a thank you to their parents.

And there's our Food Survival Guide, a short cooking course led by a Chartwells Independent executive chef that teaches students how to cook easily, healthily and within a budget.

Then they're gone. A new generation moves in to take their place and the whole magical process starts all over again.

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.

We're enhancing
our duty of care

The head teacher's story

I believe that an important element of our pastoral care is to help our students make the right lifestyle choices. I would even say that we have a moral duty to give them a sound understanding of what healthy living and eating is all about.

Many of our parents and students care deeply about social responsibility and sustainability. We're helping to meet our commitments with initiatives such as reducing food miles, recycling our food waste and converting cooking oil to diesel fuel. We're enhancing our duty of care by reducing fat, sugar and salt. All our eggs are free range. All our meat is Red Tractor and Farm-Assured. All our fish is MSC accredited. All our bananas are Fairtrade.

We believe too that our catering service does much to enhance our reputation. We're now able to provide hospitality at a very high level - from open days to fundraising events, and from leavers' balls and conferences to sports events. Visiting schools always comment favourably on the quality of our post-match meals.

There's a saying about roots
and wings

The parents' story

We've never regretted our decision to pay for private education. It's been a big commitment and a major investment over the years. But it's been worth every penny to see our children grow into young people and develop in all the ways that we always hoped they would.

What part has food played in their learning and development? Well, the more we understand about healthy eating and nutrition, the more we appreciate how vital it is. The impact of poor food in our society is all too clear. Good food makes an enormous difference.

The people from Chartwells Independent have always been there in the background, at every stage of our children's schooling. They don't push themselves forward, but their positive influence is unmistakeable.

We've loved sharing and watching the journey that our children have been on so far.

We know they're well equipped for the next stage. They know how to eat well, cook on a budget, take care of food hygiene and look after themselves. You never know what life will throw at you - but they'll carry that knowledge with them forever.

There's an old saying. When your children are young, give them roots. When they're grown, give them wings. Well, we've given them the best possible roots. Now they're ready to fly.

I train hard - but
I can't go nuts

The pupil's story

I'm a rower. I train early six mornings a week and compete for the school. I've got a bit of a food allergy too - slightly embarrassing - which means I have to be really careful what I eat. It's nuts. The allergy,
I mean. You can probably guess my nickname.

A while ago I found I was losing weight. Disaster. Luckily the nutritionist people were there for me to talk to.They made me a special energy bar with a high protein content that I can eat straight after training. It made all the difference.

I've been going to their sports nutrition lectures and interactive sessions recently too. Many of my friends are rugby players and swimmers who are using up more energy and calories, so we need to get the right diet and eat more. That's our excuse anyway.

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 a new 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.

The foundations
for future health

The food development & nutritionist's story

Healthy food creates healthy minds. There's a lot of truth in that. Our menus always include oily fish to promote young peoples' brain development - and not just during exam times.

And at every stage of education, from pre-prep school onwards, our in-house, dedicated team of specialised nutritionists take enormous care to provide the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and calories, and all the vital micro nutrients.

As children get older, their energy and nutrient requirements increase. Our menus and recipes are created specifically around the needs of each age group. But by the time they reach the sixth form, of course, their needs are changing as they start to look to the world beyond school.

The students that we've nourished and helped to develop will understand the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. The good food that they've eaten in our care will have laid the foundations for their future health. And they should be ready to face the world with the ability to cook well for themselves.

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.