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TES Schools Awards 2009 - Best school dinners

Winner - St Aidan's C of E High, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

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 while sixth formers can use 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 High is sharing its expertise with other institutions. 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.

Judges' verdict: "Very exciting. We liked the clear and, therefore, sustainable business approach. It breaks down some of the individual barriers."

Special mention: Abbey Manor College, Lee Green, south-east 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.

Judges' verdict: "Very impressive; a PRU with 60 students doing NVQs." The judges particularly liked the way in which catering was integrated into the curriculum.

TES Schools Awards 2009:

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