Adopt a School

Adopt a School, which incorporates both Chefs Adopt a School and Hospitality in Schools, is a national charity that was founded in 1990.

Our vision is that every child learns about food in a holistic sense and has the confidence to eat well, be healthy and happy. Our programme helps children to develop healthy eating habits and encourages an enthusiasm and interest in food, cooking, food provenance and sustainability, as well as giving an insight into the hospitality industry. Chefs and hospitality professionals deliver our high quality food education programme in primary schools across the country. We have devised a course of one session per term delivered to the same year group. The lessons are designed to teach children the basics of food and cookery without the need for cooking facilities – which most primary schools lack. All that is required is the classroom.

What makes Adopt a School different from other food education programmes? The unique ingredient is a programme delivered by professional chefs and highly trained hospitality professionals. Not only are they able to impart their knowledge and extensive experience, they ignite children’s enthusiasm and interest in food and the hospitality industry.

Benefits of the programme:

  • To introduce children and young people to fresh food through an animated approach to tasting.
  • Children develop the knowledge and skills to cook, choose and eat healthy, tasty, sustainable food.
  • Children are encouraged to reconnect with food and learn about the wider impact of food on health and the environment which helps to develop healthier habits.
  • To support primary school teachers to deliver the cooking & nutrition element of the primary curriculum.
  • To offer an insight into the hospitality industry.
“Children need to re-connect with their food and Adopt A School is the model that should be used for their future”.HRH The Prince of Wales at Adopt A School’s 20th Anniversary event.

“Adopt a School is so important, without it, the next generation will undoubtedly suffer”

Heston Blumenthal OBE, Chef Patron, The Fat Duck and member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts

Health & Wellbeing

The Adopt a School Programme aims to improve opportunities for children and to go some way to changing a generation’s attitude to food and combatting health inequalities. Early intervention and preventative work is a critical element of addressing the nation’s health crisis. By the time children finish primary school one in three are overweight or obese, with one in five children obese. Obesity in childhood can contribute to behavioural and emotional difficulties like depression, and reduce educational attainment. Obese children are more likely to need medical care and days off school as a result of illness. At the same time, children’s oral health is fast declining and extractions are the most common reason for 5-9 year-olds in England being admitted to hospital.Typically, it is the poorest children who are most likely to be overweight and obese and have a poor diet. Adopt a School works with many thousands of children across the UK every year and primarily supports schools in areas of high deprivation.

Supporting Schools

In September 2014, practical cookery and food education became compulsory in the national curriculum for pupils aged 5 – 14 years, and the Government’s Obesity Plan further reinforces the vital role schools have in supporting healthier eating and shaping healthy habits. But despite this, many children are still not receiving the food education and essential cookery skills that they so desperately need. Whilst there might be a willingness amongst teachers to deliver mandatory food education, we know from experience, and also our long waiting list, that many lack the confidence, ability and resources to do so. Responses to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation FELL Survey show that ‘time, budget, facilities and equipment are the biggest challenges facing the delivery of high quality food education in schools’. The Adopt a School programme also showcases how food can be embedded across the curriculum to deliver numeracy and literacy, language and literature, history and geography, maths and science.

“Adopt a School has given our pupils a real opportunity to develop their cooking and nutrition knowledge. The expertise of professional chefs has ensured that the children have completed the National Curriculum expectations for Design & Technology. Without the support of Adopt a School this would have been harder to achieve.” Mrs. Judith Standing, Head Teacher, St George׳s Hanover Square Primary School.

Instilling life skills

Many children do not know where their food comes from or how to prepare it. We believe that this leaves a huge gap in their learning and skills development. We therefore aim to equip children with crucial life skills in order to grow into self-confident, independent and healthy adults. Learning how to cook and apply the principles of nutrition and healthy eating enables pupils to feed themselves and others affordably and well, now and in later life. Adopt a School chefs and hospitality professionals ignite children’s enthusiasm and interest in food and the hospitality industry, by imparting their knowledge and extensive experience. Through our front of house session, we aim to raise aspirations by enabling children to see the value in the skills of good presentation, communication, social skills as well as the importance of sitting down and enjoying food together. The interactive activity gives each child a purpose and an opportunity to develop their skills.

The programme enables our children to receive a high-quality food technology education. As the class teacher, I wouldn’t be able to deliver food technology to the same standard. Children are shown a multitude of cooking techniques and equipment. Throughout the lesson they are taught a new language appropriate to what they are making. Often, I as a teacher, learn just as much as the children.” Senior Teacher at Oakfield Primary School, Essex

Our Impact

Latest Evaluation   Throughout the school year, we send out both baseline school surveys and AAS programme feedback evaluation forms to the schools we work with and always receive excellent feedback, as well as requests for us to continue working with their schools. In our most recent evaluation (conducted at the end of the 2018/2019  academic year), 100% of schools surveyed said that they would participate in AAS again and that they would recommend it to other schools in the area. After surveying schools that completed the survey, feedback from schools found:

  • 93% rated the Adopt a School programme as ‘excellent’, 7% rated it as ‘good’
  • 100% schools agreed that the Adopt a School programme has supported the delivery of the cooking and nutrition element of the design and nutrition element of the design and technology curriculum, 77% of whom ‘strongly agreed’ this was the case
  • 72% of schools who responded agreed that ‘The Adopt a School programme has supported cross curricular learning’
  • 98% schools found children had an increased ‘willingness to experience new tastes and foods
  • 97% schools found children had gained ‘an enthusiasm and interest in cooking’
  • 93% schools believed children had an ‘increased confidence in the children’s food preparation abilities’
  • 91% of schools saw children benefited from an a better understanding of healthy food choices
  • 86% of children had a better understanding of food provenance
  • 81% of children had enhanced social skills
  • 85% children had a greater understanding of the hospitality industry and the career opportunities that exist
  • 90% of teachers feel more confident to teach basic food preparation techniques to their class
  • 90% of teachers assert they will use food and cooking to deliver different elements of the primary curriculum, such as literacy, numeracy, science

Other Adopt a School Evaluations

  • Three independent research studies have sought to evaluate the work of the Adopt a School Trust.
  • 91% of teachers from 138 schools across England rated the Chefs Adopt a School Programme either excellent or good (Source:HALM 2008).
  • Children surveyed by the City University had an overwhelmingly positive attitude to their experience, with 89% wanting further sessions with the Chef.
  • Over 97% of teachers surveyed in the GENECON evaluation felt that the Chefs Adopt a School Programme had either some or a significant impact on stimulating children’s interest in food and food provenance.


Adopt a School relies on professional chefs and hospitality professionals volunteering their time to deliver the programme in schools. The chef typically delivers three sessions in a school year to one year group, ranging from taste and sensory to practical cookery, bread-making and front of house.

There are two options to get involved:

1) Our cost-free sessions are delivered by volunteer chefs who give up their time to go into schools. As we rely solely on chefs’ goodwill, we can only offer a limited number of school places and we do have a waiting list of schools. 2) Where there is not a volunteer chef available or you would like a visit sooner, we can offer sessions delivered by one of our qualified and experienced professional Adopt a School chefs. For this option, there would be a cost involved but we try to keep this as low as possible. Significant discounts are available for multiple sessions or classes. To register your interest in the Adopt a School programme, please complete our online registration form.


While we reach some 17,000 children every year, there is no doubt that we need to reach more. But we can’t do this alone. With over 4.5 million primary school children in England, we need the industry to come together to make a greater difference.

Why Adopt a School?

  • Inspire and educate the next generation
  • Sow the seed of hospitality
  • Give something back
  • Supports continued professional & personal development
  • Fulfil Corporate Social Responsibility commitment
Once upon a time complete fulfilment came simply from cooking what others wanted. Then it came through cooking what I wanted. Thankfully not too long afterwards it came through cooking what the customer wanted. Now it comes through all of this but most importantly of all my sense of professional worth comes from the action of giving back to an industry that has done me so proud. Adopt a School is about as worthy a cause for my time as any.”Phil Howard, Chef Proprietor, Elystan Street

How to get involved:

Attend or nominate a colleague (chef or front of house) to attend an Adopt a School training session or arrange exclusive training at your workplace to learn how to deliver food education to a local primary school. Our trainers have over 20 years of combined experience working in schools and we provide ongoing support to your team, linking them with local schools. Trained employees can then deliver the Adopt a School programme under the banner of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ Adopt a School Trust. To find out more, please contact  

We need your help to reach more children through our Adopt a School programme and there are many ways in which you can do this.
  • Regularly donate to Adopt a School or nominate Adopt a School to be your ‘Charity of the Year’
  • Run a special restaurant/hotel/product promotion e.g. add an optional £1 on the bill
  • Sponsored events – marathons, triathlons, cycle rides, golf matches, tennis tournaments, sky dive, bungee jumps etc.
  • Sponsor Adopt a School sessions at a local school
  • Buy tickets or a table at our fundraising dinners

Get in touch Donate Now

The Adopt a School Programme would not be made possible without the generous support of our sponsors and funders for specific projects. And of course, all the amazing chefs and hospitality professionals who volunteer their time to make a difference to children’s lives.

Our sponsors


Savoy Educational Trust

Worshipful Company of Cooks

University of West London

Garfield Weston Foundation

The Worshipful Company of


Table Talk Foundation


Who we are

Helena Houghton

Executive Director

Juliet Snow

Programme & Event Coordinator


Idris Caldora MCA

Executive Head Chef

James Holden

North West Regional Chef

Ashley Marsh

Chef Lecturer for London and South East



  • David Coubrough (Chairman)
  • Amanda Afiya
  • Myles Bremner
  • Richard Dunne
  • Frederick Mostert
  • Richard Shepherd CBE
  • Brian J Turner CBE
  • John Williams MBE

Contact email

Helena Houghton – Adopt a School Programme Director: Juliet Snow – Adopt a School Programme & Events Coordinator:



Royal Academy of Culinary Arts 53 Cavendish Road London SW12 0BL