CHARLTON Manor, the primary school leading the healthy eating revolution in London, is holding its fifth annual food conference at the school on Friday, June 12.

Top chef Raymond Blanc OBE will be one of 10 speakers at the Food in the Curriculum conference being held at the school in Indus Road, Charlton, south-east London.

“We hold the conference to inspire other schools to become food-growing and cooking schools,” said Charlton Manor headteacher Tim Baker. “Schools, colleges and various organisations will be attending from all over the country and as well as the speakers there will be practical demonstrations in the classes of teachers using cooking linked to maths, English, geography and other subjects.

“The idea is to embed real cooking skills in children throughout the curriculum. Why? Because it’s a vital life skill, like learning maths and writing in practical, engaging ways. For example, we don’t get fit by reading about it, but by doing it.”

Cornwall Healthy Schools’ team will be catching the early train to London, while the Empower To Cook consultancy will make the trip from Buckinghamshire.

“We will be meeting again later in June to discuss the idea of a national conference,” said Mr Baker, whose school is one of only two with the London Healthy Schools gold award. “One of the first things I wanted for Charlton Manor when I joined in 1999 was to get a garden going, and when I became head in 2004 it was the same time that the Jamie Oliver revolution came along.

“He said that school dinners needed to be changed nationally and it was then that I realised we had to link the vegetables we were growing to enabling pupils to understand why a healthy diet is essential. This meant addressing the quality of our school meals.Raymond_Blanc 3

Cooking lessons started, followed by the building of a teaching kitchen and the employment of two full-time chefs to teach the pupils. “Having two chefs has a bigger impact throughout the school as the children from reception to Y6 are exposed to healthy food and making healthy choices.” said Mr Baker.

“Studies prove that healthy eating is better for the brain, better for concentration, and therefore it is better for attainment, behaviour and self-esteem. Through cooking they gain a deeper understanding of weights and measures than through abstract worksheets.”

Mr Baker explained on Friday, May 15 – Food Revolution Day –a Charlton Manor teacher joined Jamie Oliver on the open-top bus tour from Leicester Square to promote food education in a day designed to teach children in a fun way about where their food comes from, how to cook it and how it affects their bodies. Six pupils from Charlton Manor were filmed with Jamie helping him make his famous Squash it Sandwich, and you can view the full video on YouTube.

To show that cooking involves everyone, one of the Food Revolution Day challenges for reception pupils – which Mr Baker and his deputy also tried – was to eat a slice of lemon without changing expression. Children also helped the two school chefs – Joe Grollman and Joe Leary – bake more than 400 additive-free rolls to be used for their sandwiches.

*To join Charlton Manor’s Food in the Curriculum Conference on June 12 please contact Angie Coulstock on, call 020 8856 6525 or visit  The two for the price of one May promo offer costs £80, *accompanying person goes free (*offer ends 31 May 2015).