“Can’t cook, won’t cook” is often the label given to students but Smestow School is trying to change that by teaching sixth-formers to cook before they head off to university.  We are giving a group of prospective university students a crash course in cooking so they can eat healthily on a budget when they leave home.  They are learning a series of basic recipes to give them a good grounding before they are let loose in their university kitchens.

Mrs Tara Hartley, Health and Social Care teacher at Smestow, came up with the idea and said the sessions were proving to be very popular.  She said: “As our Year 13 students start to confirm their university places, they are also starting to think about living independently away from home.  One aspect of this is ‘Miss, I can’t cook’, so for a period of six weeks the sixth form students will be cooking for uni on a budget.  They are learning to cook some basic recipes, which are healthy and cheap, and started by cooking pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.”

“This helped to get them back in the kitchen and reminded them of the safety in the kitchen, as well as the tidying up aspect too!  A cook book with a breakdown of a week’s menu that won’t break the bank is also included as part of the course from the health and social care staff to help send them off to university with our best wishes.”

The sessions are held outside of the students’ usual lessons, and Mrs Hartley said they could become a regular feature of the extra-curricular calendar at Smestow.

“Cooking is often overlooked as an essential life-skill, and we have been really encouraged by how the sixth-formers have reacted to these sessions,” she said.  “A big part of the university experience is learning to live independently, and being able to cook some basic meals is tremendously important both for their health and their bank balance.”