Tag Archives: school

Guy’s Newsletter: FE & food: an employer’s plea

Finding chefs, butchers and growers is the bane of most food businesses. Despite years of celebrity TV cooks and gardeners and all the blogs and newspaper columns devoted to food, there is a dearth of good practitioners in the nation’s fields and commercial kitchens. It’s true that many of the skills needed can be acquired on the job, but there’s always a place for classroom study to give perspective and depth, and add status and thus pride in work. How can we expect a teenager entering a profession (farming and cooking are professions, just as much as law, medicine and media) to value what they do if we won’t invest even modest sums in their training? Employers could certainly do more, (Riverford is no exception), but there is a crisis of funding unfolding in our Further Education (FE) colleges which threatens to undermine many professions.

FE colleges educate more 16 to 19 year olds taking A-levels than school sixth forms, yet, bizarrely, are excluded from the funding ‘ring fence’ protecting education; it could only happen in the class-ridden UK. Nowhere else in Europe is there such a blinkered view of what constitutes education, or are such teaching institutions so marginalised. One senior civil servant is reputed to have suggested FE could be cut “without anyone noticing”, while Boris Johnson confused FE colleges with secondary moderns in one of his speeches; such is the Westminster bubble that it appears to barely register the existence of FE. As a result, FE colleges have been an easy target, suffering funding cuts of around 35% since 2009, with a further 24% cut due in 2015/16. Imagine the outcry if schools were cut like that. Meanwhile the resulting skills shortage holds back economic growth, and it’s only going to get worse.

We are all born with different talents, which is just as well because the paths through life are as broad, varied and constantly changing as the needs of our economy and society. To restrict education funding and therefore career options in this way is as shortsighted as it is inefficient; ask almost any employer. It’s not just what’s on your plate that might suffer.

Guy Watson

PS. In another misguided narrowing of opportunities, all A-level food topics are to be axed. Visit www.savefood.tech to sign the petition.

References and further reading:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/26/adult-education-funding-cuts

“The Association of Colleges warns that 190,000 adult education places will be lost next year as funding is slashed by 24%. Since 2010, the adult skills budget, which funds non-academic (university-based) education and training for those 19 or over, has been cut by a staggering 40%.”

http://feweek.co.uk/2015/03/25/government-cuts-could-decimate-adult-education-by-2020-aoc-warns/

“Continued cuts to the adult skills budget risk wiping out adult education and training in England within five years, the Association of Colleges (AoC) has warned after research showed 190,000 course places could be lost in 2015/16 alone.

The AoC has published research based on data from its 336 member colleges which points to a bleak future for the FE sector, which has faced adult skills budget cuts of around 35 per cent since 2009 and is now gearing up to deal with the consequences of a further 24 per cent cut in 2015/16.
According to the AoC, adult education and training provision could disappear completely by 2020 if cuts continue at the same rate as they have in recent years…..”

Skills shortage articles
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/11724149/Shortage-of-skilled-workers-drags-down-UK-jobs-market-driving-up-pay-inflation.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2948908/Britain-hit-worst-skills-shortage-30-years-means-earn-100-000-year-plumber-aged-just-19-prepared-graft.html

Young Farmers Club

These pictures were taken when around 20 children from Landscove Primary School came to the farm to work on their ‘vegpatch’. It was three weeks since we had started the ‘Landscove Young Farmers Club’ and on Tuesday 6th of May it was time to return to the land after a long Easter holiday break.

Spring is a time of planting and that’s what we did. With the help of Headmaster Robin Smith and a group of willing parents, we planted the plants that were sown on our first meeting and other vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, courgettes, potatoes and onions.

This is the second year that we have undertaken the club and so far the level of interest is very good – a weekly supply of cake helps! The club is run by Darran McLane from Riverford with help from willing volunteer Jodie Giles, whom in her younger years attended Landscove. During the last week of school before the summer holidays begin, the harvest from the plot will contribute to the making of their school dinners. The intention of the club is:

  • to improve the children’s knowledge of the growing cycle of vegetables
  • to develop the practical skills needed for successful plant growing
  • to understand the benefits of organic farming
  • to know more about vegetable farming in the local community
  • to know more about the vegetables that can be grown locally
  • to inspire them to be more involved in growing things at home
  • to improve their understanding of the relationship between field to plate.

food for thought

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Boys from Landsgrove primary school dig up spuds from their patch on Riverford farm – will they make chips?


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growing kids

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Here at Riverford we’ve been cooking the school dinners for a local primary school since 2005, but last year we thought it would be fun to give the kids a patch of land on the farm to grow their own vegetables to put in the meals.

The results were a huge success. The children grew onions, potatoes, tomatoes and many other crops that they had chosen themselves. All the year groups got involved.

We recently had a little harvest festival so the children could show their parents what they had been up to – and you can see the results here!


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