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Pride as catering team from Priory School in Bury St Edmunds triumphs at LACA Awards for Excellence





An ‘amazing’ school catering team that provides meals for children with special needs and disabilities has been recognised with a ‘much-deserved’ national award.

The catering team from Priory School, in Bury St Edmunds, has won the LACA Primary School Catering Team of the Year Award for 2024.

The LACA Awards for Excellence recognise individuals and teams that have made a 'real difference' to school food and education catering.

From left: Nikki Baker, Vicky Baxter, Lorraine Ainsworth and Caz Thomas. Picture: Barry Goodwin
From left: Nikki Baker, Vicky Baxter, Lorraine Ainsworth and Caz Thomas. Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Priory School catering team was nominated by Sarah Stannard, catering manager for SENDAT, which runs the school.

She said: “This really is a nationally-recognised award which would have been up against primary schools all over the country, so I am so pleased and proud of this much-deserved award.

“It is also a fantastic way for the team to be recognised and celebrated at the end of this academic year.”

Last night, the Priory School Catering Team (SENDAT) won the LACA Primary School Catering Team of the Year Award
Last night, the Priory School Catering Team (SENDAT) won the LACA Primary School Catering Team of the Year Award
Catering manager Sarah Stannard said she was 'super proud' to reveal Priory School's catering team had won
Catering manager Sarah Stannard said she was 'super proud' to reveal Priory School's catering team had won

SENDAT is a multi-academy trust focused on the education of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

It offers in-house catering within four of its schools in Suffolk and Norfolk, one of them being the Priory School, in Mount Road.

In her nomination for the ‘amazing’ team, Ms Stannard said many of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and, from a catering perspective, they like to ensure that no child goes hungry, focusing on nutrition, availability and choice.

She said: “Throughout the past year, Vicky Baxter (head of kitchen), along with her team of Nikki Baker (assistant cook), Kate Daniels (tea cook), Caz Thomas (catering assistant) and Lorraine Ainsworth (catering assistant) have demonstrated a true understanding of the needs of these children and daily go above and beyond to provide a service that is not only delicious, nutritional, and visually appealing but friendly, warm and welcoming.”

She said the whole team knows most of the 207 children by their first names and have an amazing understanding of their likes and dislikes, as well as encouraging them to try new things by listening to their individual needs.

The team also caters for Priory’s unit in the village of Thurston, preparing delivering and serving hot lunch orders for around 25 pupils and staff, and two new classes are being added to this site in September.

Red Nose Day
Red Nose Day

The team at the school - which also has the offer of boarding to the pupils Monday to Thursday - also produces birthday cakes and theme evenings for certain celebrations and offers breakfast daily to the whole school.

The team at Priory ‘excels’ when it comes to theme days, such as Halloween and Red Nose Day, the nomination said.

Ms Stannard also mentioned the team’s efforts in catering for a large exchange group from Germany, while also looking after the normal school meals, and cooking a celebration barbecue for around 300 people for Priory’s 50th birthday last summer.

And at Christmas they ‘like to push the boat out’, with the team serving an amazing festive dinner for the 250 plus children and staff.

Suitable older students from the upper school and sixth form also get the chance to have work experience in the kitchens.

“The catering team at Priory really are such an important part of the school and the feedback we get from pupils and their parents is nothing but positive,” added Ms Stannard.

“They help to make the school a warm and caring environment, with the children having meals as a highlight of their day.”