South Tyneside school cooks serve up success

Toner Avenue School cook Carol Robinson, with Clive Walker, Cllr Joan Atkinson, and pupils Matthew Burrell, Alisha Vaughan, and Connor Coyne.
Toner Avenue School cook Carol Robinson, with Clive Walker, Cllr Joan Atkinson, and pupils Matthew Burrell, Alisha Vaughan, and Connor Coyne.

A school kitchen team in South Tyneside school has been named the nation’s best - for serving ever more pupils in the fastest possible time.

Facing a 20 per cent rise in pupils - and no cash to improve facilities or storage - staff at Toner Avenue Primary School, in Hebburn, made innovation their key ingredient.

They developed new working and ordering processes and used work space more efficiently.

Led by cook in charge Carol Robinson, they also introduced staggered lunch breaks for older children and queuing time has reduced by a third.

Their menu of success has now landed them the Lead Association for Catering in Education’s (LACA) coveted Excellence Award.

Headteacher Michael Arthur said the team’s system still allowed eaters plenty of time to enjoy their lunch - with extra time to play outside.

He added: “The Toner Avenue kitchen team has delivered a major change to deliver a fast and efficient service but have also maintained their commitment to first class quality and outstanding customer service. They are an absolute asset to our school community.”

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families, said providing nutritious, balanced school dinners was one of the ways South Tyneside Council was giving young people the best start in life.

She added: “By choosing a school lunch, parents can be assured that their children are getting all the nutrients they need to maintain concentration for the rest of the school day.

“Meal uptake at Toner Avenue is the highest it has ever been.”

The team, regularly provide themed lunches to mark special occasions such as Hallowe’en and Children in Need.