The catering team at Stafford Grammar School celebrated earlier this year when they won a Gold Cap Award. Here Bursar John Downes explains what the award did for the team and how it has set them up for the future…
Not that long ago we decided to bring our catering service in-house to improve the food offering to pupils.
The previous suppliers had done a good job, and even won a Silver CAP Award themselves, but we thought we could go one better and set ourselves the target of winning a Gold CAP Award.
This was a powerful motivation for the catering team, to prove they had what it took to put the best food on the menu and to run a slick, professional kitchen.
Going for a Gold CAP also guaranteed that all our practices and procedures had to be of the very highest quality and that full HACCP was being applied.
Winning the award was obviously a great achievement but the ongoing support has also been hugely beneficial to us here at Stafford Grammar.
The 12-month office support has allowed for ongoing updates of best-practice and to be aware of any legal changes coming down the pipeline. For instance the recent updates to allergen awareness and the corresponding labelling were very useful.
The fortnightly ‘core skill awareness’ programme is embraced by the catering team because it allows them to keep up to date with the smartest and most effective ways to work.
And the ‘Tools of the Trade’ pack has been vital for us. The tools have allowed us to quickly put systems in place for cost controls on production, a financial control system for the department, quality measurements on pupil feedback and purchasing benchmarks.
Winning a Gold CAP Award has been so beneficial for the catering department at Stafford.
We’ve put better systems in place, improved the food on the menu, celebrated our hard working team and had something very positive to shout about. We look forward to striving for Gold for many more years to come.
By Alan Whelpdale, Headmaster
The public concern for the quality of school meals is never far from the headlines these days.
Whether it’s Jamie Oliver campaigning in Downing Street or pupils themselves, such as the now famous Martha Payne, blogging about the quality of the food on offer, it’s a spicy topic.
That’s why here at Leicester High School for Girls we are determined to ensure our catering service is of the highest quality.
To help us meet our own high standards we have used the Hotel Services Assessment Programme (HOTSAP).
HOTSAP allowed us to quickly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our catering service from Hazard analysis and critical control points through to the catering facilities, and from strategic planning to the student voice.
The insight this produced allowed us to feedback to the Senior Leadership Team and the catering department to agree a plan of action for improvements within a given time frame.
HOTSAP was also a wonderful vehicle to encourage catering staff engagement and to bring their own excellent ideas for service improvement to the forum.
As a Headmaster I’ve always found it crucial, when seeking to implement positive change, to have all parties on one agenda with known responsibilities and deliverables – HOTSAP does just that.
Ongoing monitoring is key to ensuring a continuous quality of catering service and so we re-visit the HOTSAP Assessment each term to chart progress.
It’s also been a fun experience for the pupils with some of them sitting on the Catering Committee for the food tasting session. This is a termly exercise and their food sampling scores show our progress!
Crucially, HOTSAP allowed us to make a capital investment focused on known deliverables, for instance the introduction of a salad bar helped expand the offer to the pupils and add additional healthy options.
The end result for us at Leicester High School for Girls has been a much improved catering function, better engaged and motivated staff, and most importantly delicious and nutritious food!
Many schools, care homes and hospitals have made significant improvements to their housekeeping and catering services through our HOTSAP scheme.
HOTSAP – the Hotel Services Assessment Programme – is used by clients to financially and qualitatively assess their catering and housekeeping operations.
Crucially HOTSAP is not public facing and allows facilities to perfect their housekeeping and catering services before going for a high profile CAP Award, with all the reputational and marketing benefits it brings.
HOTSAP is based on regulatory, best practice and industry standards of performance and is often used as a ‘test’ for the CAP Award, a bit like a mock exam.
The structure of an assessment visit is much more fluid against a site needs and our inspectors can spend time focusing in on a particular area which you feel requires guidance – food quality, cleaning standards, financial tools, etc.
The assessment highlights short-comings and strengths and allows corrective actions to be taken.
For example on the housekeeping side we look at risk of cross contamination within the COSHH cupboards due to colour coded light equipment not being segregated i.e. mop handles, brushes, dust pans, etc. To remedy this a couple of wall grips could be installed to segregate the equipment and reduce the risk of contamination.
On the catering front we can carry out benchmarking exercises to show the actual food spend – often higher than expected. A series of ‘tools of the trade’ provided by HOTSAP will always identify the cause.
These desired upgrades then become part of the appraisal process for the department with a percentage improvement figure being set as the target.
Our clients find that HOTSAP is a useful group analysis tool across a number of sites for catering and housekeeping service delivery. Actions required by the Group Head Office can then be drawn from the analysis and applied across all sites to deliver continuity of best practice.
If you think that HOTSAP could help you perfect your catering or housekeeping function then do get in touch – there’s always a smarter way to work.