Flex student chopping carrots.

Cooking Up a Storm: Flex Students Maximise Free College Meal Bursary During Lockdown

4 March 2021

Students in North Notts College Flex department, a specialist department for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), have been creating stunning home-cooked meals using the budget that would normally provide free meals from the College’s Bistro.

As well as making healthy and nutritious meals in the department’s kitchen, the experience also links to the curriculum and helps the students improve their maths and English skills, their independence and other key skills for living.

North Notts College Flex Lecturer Jenny Bowker has overseen the project and works closely with the students to design the daily menus.

Jenny said: “Giving the students this opportunity is a great and realistic way to teach independence skills and give them strong foundations to build on. It’s a fantastic way to teach key elements of cooking – from basic things like washing hands and ensuring good hygiene, to safety in the kitchen with sharp knives and hot pans and surfaces, through to more complex food safety such as storage and cooking to the right temperature.

“But more than that, we can weave in maths and English skills in interactive and relevant ways, following a recipe not only improves our students English, but also helps with their maths as they measure and weigh each ingredient.”

Jenny continues: “I’m so proud of the quality of food that the students have created, and every day they grow in confidence and want to try more complex recipes. Today we’ve had a lasagne with garlic bread and a dessert of sticky toffee pudding. The value we get from a small amount of money is unbelievable.”

North Notts College Flex student Josh Beckingham has enjoyed the experience and has taken the skills learned at the College home with him.

Josh said: “I enjoy cooking in college, we learn healthier ways to cook things and we’ve been having bigger portions.

“I’ve been doing some cooking at home, I made a roast dinner with a cornflake tart the other day, but my favourite thing to make is pasta.”

Another student who has enjoyed the experience of cooking is talented baker Courtney Smith.

Courtney said: “I’m hoping to be able to cook more at home. I love baking. My favourite was making a sprinkle tray bake. I think I’d like to learn to make meringue.”

North Notts College Assistant Principal Angela Bates has been impressed by the standard of food the students have been making.

Angela said: “I’m so impressed with the students, and so proud of both the students and staff who have adapted to the latest lockdown. It’s been a change in the way that our staff teach and our students learn, but you can see how much they are all getting from the experience.

“I tried some of the food, and purchased a portion to replenish the budget today, and it was fantastic. It was nutritious and delicious.”


Find out more about our Flex provision here.

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