Our project story
At Ashgate Croft Special School, we want to ensure that every pupil has equal access to the essential life skill of preparing quality food. We understand the importance of teaching young people about the food cycle, healthy eating, and the skill of preparing a wholesome meal. However, the design of our Food Technology room means that students with disabilities are unable to fully participate in this important aspect of the school curriculum.
To offer this enriching provision equally to each student, we need to equip our Food Technology room with a design and layout that enables our pupils with disabilities to participate fully in lessons. This will include a new interior layout designed for proper wheelchair access, accessible workstations that allow students with disabilities to get involved in cooking, and an open design that encourages collaboration and introduces pupils to the important social element of preparing and sharing food.
As an established part of our school’s curriculum, it is important that Food Technology is equally accessible for all students. As a school, we are concerned that this is not currently the case. Our Food Technology room is not designed to accommodate pupils with special needs and requirements. The current layout is not wheelchair-friendly, lacks accessible workstations, and does not promote the social inclusion associated with preparing food alongside teaching staff and peers.
The space in the Food Technology room could be utilised more effectively, providing shared rise-and-fall worktops alongside adequate space for the movement of wheelchairs and other accessibility equipment. These changes would make the kitchen safer for use and ensure it is well-suited for teaching and cooking.
At Ashgate Croft School, we understand that cooking and a sound understanding of food is an essential life skill. Our philosophy is to help pupils build skills for life. Giving them the knowledge and experience they need to prepare meals and enjoy a range of associated benefits is a central part of this ideal. By taking part in our Food Technology sessions, our students will have the opportunity to develop their independence alongside an essential life skill that will benefit them long into the future.
Our students with disabilities do not necessarily have the accessibility equipment needed to participate in cooking activities at home. In addition, it is necessary for our students to practise over a sustained period of time in order to effectively learn new skills, something that cannot be replicated as well in the home environment. This means our school may be the only venue in which they could acquire such a vital life skill, develop their independence, and benefit from the social cohesion offered by group working activities.
When the refurbishment of the Food Technology room is successfully completed, our students will have access to a purpose-built learning space replete with accessibility features that ensure no pupil misses out on this important part of the school curriculum. Irrespective of any disabilities they may have, all of our students will have the opportunity to develop the essential life skill of cooking.
The room’s newly redesigned interior will be cleaner and safer for use alongside accessibility equipment. As part of the refurbishment, the Food Technology room will be reconfigured to incorporate rise-and-full units for wheelchair users. This will make workbenches accessible for any student making use of a wheelchair.
Discrete workstations will also allow for our students to interact while food is being prepared and cooked, emphasizing the social and human element of cooking and enabling group work, which is currently difficult to accommodate owing to the room's design. This is an experience many of our students would benefit from.
The refurbished Food Technology room will feature a storage area. Currently, our school sorely lacks space for the storage of accessibility equipment used by students as they navigate our premises. As a result, equipment must sometimes be stored in corridors. An example of this is our mobile hoist, which must currently be stored at the bottom of our school’s stairwell. The refurbishment will provide us with a more appropriate location for the storage of equipment, helping us to keep the school organised and safe for students.
Following the refurbishment, students will become more engaged and interested in the subject of Food Technology. The new room layout will encourage cooperation among students and will mean that teachers and assistants are better able to communicate with classes. The room’s new, open-plan design will make the responsibility of preparing food a shared one. Group work will become more engaging and achievable.