What they did
The school employs a 20-strong catering team and 85 per cent of pupils eat school lunches. There are three professional chefs and a baker. Year 7 pupils have a separate dining hall and sixth form pupils an all-day cafe. Pupils are allowed to leave the school premises at lunchtime. Many do, but only after they have enjoyed their school lunch. The restaurants offer cashless catering and the eating habits of individual pupils can be tracked. A dietitian analyses the meals for nutritional balance.
St Aidan's is also sharing its expertise with other schools through a service called catering4schools. Two catering conferences for schools considering an independent catering service were a sell-out. A subscription website has recipes and five-day menu plans for healthy meals.
Last year, the school opened a deli bar for soups, salads and hot baguettes for those who want a quick lunch before going to midday clubs.
What the judges said
"Very exciting. We liked the clear and therefore sustainable business approach. It breaks down some of the individual barriers."
The judges also drew attention to Abbey Manor College in Lee Green, south London. NVQ catering students at this pupil referral unit plan, prepare and cook the meals. They serve staff and pupils, 90 per cent of whom have a two-course lunch. The judges particularly liked the way in which catering was integrated into the curriculum.
About the awards
The TES Schools Awards, or TESSAs, celebrate and reward the professionalism and flair of teams making an outstanding contribution to primary and secondary schools in the maintained and independent sectors. This year's event attracted hundreds of entries and the panel of judges was impressed by their range and quality. Next year's TESSAs will be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on June 17 2010, and are open for entries at www.tes.co.ukawards.
Each week we profile one of this year's winners. For more details on entering the 2010 TES Schools Awards visit www.tes.co.ukawards.