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Food Tech teachers, help! How do you get your students to wash up properly!?

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by NadiaMAHH, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. NadiaMAHH

    NadiaMAHH New commenter

    Good afternoon all!

    I am seeking best practice for keeping the hygiene of the food tech kitchen up to scratch. If I spend another term cleaning, I will explode! I don't have a technician (well, I do, but he is timetabled elsewhere, and I have a parent volunteer just two lunchtimes per week), but I do insist that students wash up, dry up and put away all dishes and equipment each lesson. Whilst I understand that it comes with the territory, I know that I am spending way too much time trying to make sure students have clean dishes to use.

    However, no matter how much emphasis I put into washing up properly, so far I haven't been able to get this through to the students (years 7-11), and in the aftermath of lesson, I find dishes that haven't been washed properly and put back into cupboards.

    I started teaching a this school in September and seeing that the food tech kitchen wasn't looking as clean as I'd personally like it, I deep cleaned every corner, cupboard, drawer, dish, oven, saucepan, spoon etc. This took me every evening and weekend for a month to do. I found some HORRENDOUS monstrosities (for example, rotting food that had been left in a saucepan and put in the cupboard before the summer holidays - the smell, once discovered, went through the whole building).

    My first few months at this school were spent spending hours after school washing up and cleaning up properly (we do have cleaners but they wipe the worktops and clean the floor, they don't do dishes or laundry). As a result, apart from going mad, I have not been able to keep on top of planning, marking, and losing the will to live in the mean time!

    What I have done so far to tackle this:
    • dedicated lessons to teach importance of hygiene, putting equipment away in the right places, washing up properly, drying up properly.
    • taken photos of said dirty dishes and used them in a powerpoints to teach with
    • dedicated first practical lesson to washing up and drying up, so that students know what is expected
    • I have made students stay behind to re-do the dishes if I have seen that they haven't washed them properly - I don't always see every dish until closer inspection though.
    • I start each term with a "kitchen tour" so students are reminded of cleanliness and organisation,
    • I allocate specific kitchen stations to students in an effort to catch the culprits - can't seem to catch them, unless on a day when I don't have practical lesson after practical lesson.
    • I got mean: threatened to let students use dirty dishes if they don't wash up properly (which I wouldn't actually do, but hoped it would make them wash up better).
    • Gave detentions to individuals who I know haven't washed up or dried up properly.
    At my wit's end:

    Yep, I am. To the point where I have sent students to my line manager to complain - it is that bad that some (good) students don't want to do practical lessons because they open a cupboard that has dishes in there that have not been cleaned properly. And I am on their side: I wouldn't want to cook with dishes that smell or have food still on them, and if I were a parent of one of these students I wouldn't be happy either. I am running around and around in circles about this issue, have spoken to SLT about this and there is no sign of a technician being taken on. I have large classes too (too many in some groups, which I also am struggling to manage), so this makes it even harder.

    What would you do to keep the Food Tech kitchen clean, hygienic and safe to use? How do you do get your students to wash up properly and ensure that it is ready for the next lesson?

    I feel ridiculous for asking, but I cannot continue like this.

    Thanks for reading ! Open to any suggestions!!
  2. sallees32

    sallees32 New commenter


    Students attending the school that I taught at last year were aware of the rules regarding cleaning up from the beginning of the school year. The rules needed to be reinforced regularly ie: not cleaning tools and equipment properly is a health and safety issue. It also prevents other students from using the equipment for the full lesson as they have to spend time cleaning before they can start cooking.
    The kitchen assistant cleans the kitchens at the end of each term and at all other times it is the responsibility of students to keep their Food Technology classroom clean.
    As far as washing up..my Year 7 class were given several lessons at the beginning of their unit of work regarding how to properly wash dishes, putting tools and equipment away in the correct place etc.
    Students were tested on their knowledge prior to cooking.
    The Food rooms have prominent and very visible signs reminding students of the expectations regarding keeping the kitchen clean.
    At the end of each cooking lesson, students also have a more general duty to complete such as sweeping the floor or taking out the garbage.
    Students are reminded every lesson of their responsibilities.
    Finally, if students do not comply, including bringing correct equipment such as their snood and a container to take food home in, their are not allowed to cook for the lesson. This is very effective in ensuring that they try to do the right thing.
    Constant reminders and consistent consequences kept the majority of my students on track and they enjoyed their lessons.

    I hope this helps, you seem to be having a tough time.

    jlishman2158 likes this.
  3. jmrobson68

    jmrobson68 New commenter

    You poor thing! I'm a part time (3 days a week,21hrs) food technician so the teachers are lucky at our school. At our school we have tried all sorts. It is a huge issue probably in most food rooms. As you know children come to us in yr 7 and most of them have never done at thing at home in the kitchen. It's a total shock to them having to clear up after themselves.

    First off the teacher will spend a lesson on kitchen hygene & include washing up the contents of their cupboards or drawers. From the first practical lesson they work as partners but only at the end when they have finished cooking , they wash & dry the equipment used together, we encourage team work at this point. The person drying has to clear & sanitise the worksurface & the dried washing up is displayed on the clean surface for me a TA (If one's in the class) or the teacher to check. This kind of only works well if you're strict on it.

    One very good point is to not buy cheap washing up liquid, it doesn't work well, buy Fairy Liquid it's the only one in my experience that cuts through the grease well enough! If it's the things are clean they can be put away, if not it's rejected & they have wash & dry it again. As you can imagine it's not that simple either with time restraints & it's hard to be everywhere at once & some sudents can be very sneaky & things do fall through the net sometimes.

    If we can when everythings put away we take a quick look in their cupboards to see if all the equipment is back in place. On the inside of each door we have a picture like the ones I've shared so they know where everything goes.

    I really sympathise with you, I've been a food technician for 14 years & as I've got older I've found it more & more challenging physicaly, boy am I tired at the end of the day! The teachers we have work incredibly hard & honestly don't know how they do it & they have me to help so you should be proud of managing on your own! I think you should push very hard to get a technician. Although I'm part time I feel like I have to do a full time job in part time hours so try to get someone full time if you can.

    I not only help in class but do all demo set up's, shop for ingredients for the department & pupil premium students, keep the place clean & hygenic, do all the laundry, display work, help organise open evenings, organise repairs to equipment & order everything for the food room. I'm also responsible for ordering for Health & Social Care & Textiles. You can easily justify needing a technician it's just persuading SLT that you badly need one because as you know if they've never experienced being in a food room they will have no clue how hard it is.

    I wish you all the luck in the world.

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    safnor likes this.

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