Shortlees Primary School & Early Childhood Centre Catering Team, East Ayrshire Council, Sponsored by Brakes Scotland
Fiona Murray is the Catering Manager at Shortlees Primary and Early Childhood Centre working there for over 10 years, along with a team of 8 staff. The school roll is 367, with 118 nursery children. Shortlees is one of the highest areas for deprivation, sometimes making it very challenging for the catering team.
The breakfast club, with almost a third of the pupils attending. Fiona and her team always greets the children with a friendly face and a ‘good morning’, skilfully convincing them to eat, even when reluctant! They also provide snacks and meals for the children attending the ECC.
Fiona and her team are at the heart of the school and part of the wider life of the school. They are keen to showcase the food during Parents evenings and Fiona thrives on getting to know the parents personally. She often attends Christmas Shows, Fund Raising Events etc. in her own time.
They are always willing to help at school events, whether it’s baking for the baking stall, storing ice-cream for the snow cone stall or helping to prepare sausages for the ‘hot dog’ stall – nothing is ever a problem. For Halloween, Easter, Christmas etc, they always decorate the dining hall and take part in all festivities.
Fiona involves her kitchen fully in school initiatives believing “food brings people together”. She plays an active role within the school Eco Committee and encourages her team to volunteers to work with staff for cross-curricular activities i.e. Fair Trade Week, Topic Work and celebrating cuisines from other countries. ‘Plant to Plate’ has been very successful, the team working with the school helping the pupils to grow vegetables that are then used for their school meals or to take home!
Recently the team have supported Parent Cooking Classes, designed to teach parents/carers within Shortlees how to cook healthy nutritious meals, manage a shopping budget, ensure no waste by merging meals, all for £30 a week for a family of four. The first programme saw 15 parents/carers attending and 28 signed up for the next!
They always ensure they know every child’s name within the school, dedicating a lot of time getting to know every child personally and the foods that they enjoy.
The overall School Meal Uptake was 71.24% for 2018-2019 and 78.65% for Free School Meals.
The pupils love their school meals and to date, the feedback for 2018-2019 shows over 95% overall satisfaction, with a 100% satisfaction for menu choices, the taste of food, helpfulness of the staff. Parental feedback shows 93.59% overall satisfaction and over 98% for the care shown by staff, Type and quality of food offered and nutritional content.
In addition, the team still find time to provide catering for Council and other special events, showcasing their culinary talents!
All of this makes Shortlees kitchen a very busy place to work and Fiona manages this extremely well, where she and her team go above and beyond, on a daily basis, to provide all the pupils and staff with excellent meals and service.