Students with additional support needs are enjoying the benefits of an extended teaching kitchen at New College Lanarkshire.
The Supported Learning kitchen at our Cumbernauld Campus has recently been extended to almost double its previous size.
The renovation means classes of up to 12 students, many of whom use wheelchairs and are accompanied by support workers, can be accommodated.
Two rise and fall sinks and two rise and fall hobs have been added to allow students to adapt the height of their cooking surfaces.
The kitchen is designed to improve the independent living skills of around 70 full-time and 40 part-time students who use it on a weekly basis.
Many of the meals made in College – including a favourite of beetroot soup – use ingredients grown in a polytunnel at the Campus.
The revamp also created a welcoming quiet room next to the lively kitchen environment to provide a haven for any students who may become distressed.
Curriculum & Quality Leader Vivienne Pollock said: “Some of our students are moving towards supported accommodation, so they will be doing their own cooking.
“They’re learning about health and safety in an environment that could potentially be dangerous for them.
“Our teaching kitchen allows students to come in, experience cooking and become more creative – and it’s encouraging them to be less reliant on others.”
Christopher Buchanan, 26, from Camelon near Falkirk, is a student on the Leavers Option course.
He said: “There’s more space for people to work and there are a lot of different tools in the drawers to use.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve learned how to bake things and I get to take them home.”
Gillian Rankin, 26, from Cumbernauld, who studies Enterprise and Employability, said: “It’s a lot more open now and there’s more space for working.
“Before you had to share cookers and you sometimes had to wait in a queue to use a sink.
“It just works a lot better having more space and equipment.”
Meanwhile, students from the Faculty of Supported Learning have for the first time this year participated in the WorldSkills UK contest in which apprentices and students from all over the UK showcase their skills in a series of regional heats.
Two students, Gary Smith and Gordon Kirkpatrick, are awaiting news of whether they will be invited to compete in the ‘Inclusive Skills – Catering’ category at the national final in Birmingham in November.
David McShane, Head of Faculty of Supported Learning, said: “As a College and a Faculty we are committed to ensuring accessibility for all.
“The refurbished and extended teaching kitchen will provide our learners with an opportunity to learn and hone valuable life skills.
“This investment will enable us to equip more learners with the necessary skills to progress towards employment, supported employment and independent living.”