The level of skill required varies depending on the role of the individual. A competent member of staff who could cook, prepare and finish meals from scratch, which meet the new school food standards, would be working at level 2 of the qualifications framework, and would be a competent cook able to work with a high degree of autonomy. A head chef or someone with supervisory responsibilities would be working at level 3 of the framework, and be able to manage staff and resources and have significant operational responsibilities for work in kitchens.
Training is currently provided in a number of ways. Local authorities and contract caterers provide significant amounts of in-house training. In addition, there are colleges and private training providers which offer courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications such as the certificate in providing healthier school meals, the support workers in schools qualification and national vocational qualifications in professional cookery and food processing and cookery. The department will also be investing £2 million in 2007-08 in the establishment of a network of regional training centres for school catering staff to act as centres of excellence. The department has asked the School Food Trust to take the lead on developing this proposal. Further work is under way, including looking at how this network will fit into existing provision in schools and colleges, and by private providers.
The relevant sector sills council for catering skills is People 1st.
The department does not collect information on the provision for the storage of pupils' lunchboxes in state schools. However, the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 require an employer, which will include either a school or local authority, to ensure that risk assessments are conducted and measures put in place to control any known risk. This should take all factors into account, including putting arrangements in place for the storage of food and drink on school premises.
Guidance on food safety including food storage is also available on the Food Standards Agency's website.