The Young Chefs’ Academy (YCA) was established at Westminster Kingsway College (WKC) in 2003. The programme’s aims were:
- To provide school pupils with practical experience of cooking - often isn’t included in Food Technology and in a professional kitchen.
- To highlight to teachers and careers teachers the value of engagement, pride and decision making in the learning process.
- To equip young people with up-to-date career information about the industry through the chef teaching them.
These ambitions remain 16 years later and, in many ways, are more critical than ever. The imposition of the highly academic EBacc has limited subject choices for many students and especially in technical and creative subjects.
To demonstrate how the YCA influences how learners see themselves and their future careers, WKC has produced a short video. It tracks the journey of students who have attended the YCA. There are interviews with learners during the YCA graduation lunch, followed by former YCA students who are now in their first year of full-time study and finally we hear from graduating students who began at the YCA and are now about to embark on their careers.
Terry Tinton, Centre Director, said,
‘Unfortunately, 16 years later, schools who understand the value of vocational education in the hospitality industry after GCSE’s are still in the minority. Furthermore, we hear so much about graduates being unemployed or over-qualified in the jobs they are doing - this is not the case for the graduating chefs on our full-time courses because they all go on to have fulfilling and lucrative careers.’
The YCA’s Saturday School has been extremely influential, giving numerous young people a career to aspire to when they have done their GCSE’s. Since 2003, 900 young people have attended the YCA; 60% have progressed on to WKC’s Professional Chef Diploma. The college plans to build on the success of YCA and offer more new courses.