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How To Become A Kitchen Assistant Within A School

Deciding to become a kitchen assistant which is sometimes known as a catering assistant within a school setting can be a very rewarding and interesting job. Being around children of different ages with differing needs and dietary requirements as well as providing nutritious and tasty meals is an extremely important role to fulfill where no two days will ever be the same.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
January 10, 2024

Deciding to become a kitchen assistant which is sometimes known as a catering assistant within a school setting can be a very rewarding and interesting job. Being around children of different ages with differing needs and dietary requirements as well as providing nutritious and tasty meals is an extremely important role to fulfill where no two days will ever be the same.

The role will vary according to each individual educational setting but some of the key responsibilities will be as follows.

You will be planning the menus while taking into consideration the strict guidelines on healthy eating and nutrition. You will be preparing and cooking food and drinks which you will then serve to the children while being fully aware of allergies and intolerances. You will also be required to be competent in food hygiene and health, safety policies and cleanliness procedures according to the current regulations and be able to implement these with a thorough understanding. Washing up, cleaning and tidying of the kitchen, storing food appropriately and perhaps setting up the dining area may be necessary as well as using payment systems depending upon the arrangement used.

You will obviously need to enjoy being with children and be able to support their wellbeing with great communication skills.You will be able to work under pressure (as schools are busy environments), both supervised and unsupervised but usually with the same kitchen/catering team.

Qualification requirements may vary but you will usually need at least a Level 1 or Level 2 in areas such as Food Preparation, Cooking, Catering or Food Safety and Hygiene. Often schools are very proactive in encouraging their employees to gain the appropriate qualifications and will offer short training courses which will equip you with the necessary skills as well as giving you a recognised qualification. In addition to kitchen training you may be offered to do a safeguarding course as you will be working with children. By law, an enhanced DBS check will be carried out prior to you taking up any employment.

Many schools will be more than happy to utilise your skills on a voluntary basis especially if you are particularly enthusiastic in working within a certain setting and of course, it is valuable when applying for a catering role when a position becomes vacant as it will prove how dedicated you are.

Hours will vary but on average a kitchen assistant in a school will be working set hours between 15 - 25 hours per week, Monday to Friday. A major advantage of working in a school is that as you are only required to work during term time, you get all the school holidays off! This is ideal for people who have their own children at school as you have the added bonus of not having to worry about child care.

In addition to working only during term time, you will be given the appropriate uniform to wear (which will involve wearing a hat or hair covering), you will get full training, often with opportunities to progress further and access to a pension scheme.

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