Ever wondered what it’s like to make dinner for over 300 hungry students and staff? For Stars in our schools day, a celebration of school support staff organised by UNISON,  caught up with Linda Dennington, deputy cook at the ARK Kings Academy canteen to find out more about her job and contribution to  the academy.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Linda and I’ve worked in school kitchens for six years. As well as ARK Kings, I have also worked for Turves Green School, Broadmeadow Junior School and Kings Heath Primary School. Last year, I gained an NVQ Level 3 qualification in catering, which I am proud of.

What does a typical day for you look like?

My day starts at just before 8 o’clock. If it’s a Monday or Tuesday, I make sure our fresh food is delivered on time. Then it’s on to chopping vegetables and preparing the different meals we serve each day. Today, I’m making a chicken and leek pie. Everything is prepared from scratch, even the pastry. I’ve been making a béchamel sauce for the pie. We use reduced fat cream, which means you can still have what you fancy in moderation.

After preparing the meals of the day, the focus of my team shifts to serving students and staff. We have two servings; a morning break at 10.40am and lunchtime, which runs from 12.30 to 2pm.

Most days, I am able to finish by 2pm. I find this allows me to fit work around my other commitments. Finishing work early was particularly helpful when my kids were growing up.

What’s the best part of your job?

Overall, I find ARK Kings to be a fun and friendly place to work. I’m a bit of a people pleaser and Iove it when I see people enjoying their meals and they come up to me and say “lovely meal”.

What’s less good about working in a school canteen?

The people! Sometimes you get the odd person who looks at the food I’ve made and says, “ugh, what’s that?”. Fortunately, ARK Kings is a friendly place and the vast majority of students and staff appreciate what we do.

How do you think ARK Kings can improve how it serves food to students and staff? 

I would like to see students and staff give me more feedback of the meals we serve. I’d like to introduce feedback cards like you have in restaurants. I know it’s not all going to be positive but that’s how you improve.


Stars in our schools is a celebration of school support staff. UNISON has organised the day to celebrate the wonderful work they do every day and to make sure the world knows just how vital they are to children’s education.


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