Scotland Seafood in Schools program a success
Seafood Scotland announced its Seafood in Schools program reached about 50,000 students by the end of this year’s academic term.
Two-day workshops were organized for 20 high schools and transportation provided to enable pupils from 136 primary schools throughout Scotland to join in. In addition, a series of 20 one-day health & wellbeing days were organized for individual schools.
The program engaged directly with more than 13,500 pupils and interacted with 12,000 children at the Royal Highland Show. A further 25,000 pupils were reached through dissemination of class projects, via assemblies and other activity.
Seafood in Schools teaches students from nursery school to high school graduates where seafood comes from, how it gets to their plates via the wider food chain, why it is good to eat as part of a healthy diet and what different seafood tastes like. It offers in-depth insight into fishing, aquaculture, processing, marketing, exporting, economics and transportation, and encourages students to consider the range of careers available throughout the industry.
The workshops generally comprise three different activities. The first features a display cabinet of seafood manned by a Seafood in Schools coordinator, with a guest appearance by a local fishmonger, retailer, marine scientist, fisherman or fish farmer, all of whom pass on expert knowledge during the session. The second is a “come dine with me” experience, which enables children to taste species high in omega 3 and to learn why they are essential for good health. A final session involves a cooking demonstration or active cooking session for pupils, depending on the facilities available. Seafood in Schools has formally linked with the Chefs@Schools project, which assists in finding willing chefs.
Other local and national industry partners help by providing seafood for display and tasting sessions, and by maintaining contact to facilitate compulsory post-workshops projects.
“The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organization (SSPO) is delighted to continue to support this fun and interactive program,” said Scott Landsburgh, SSPO CEO. “It is essential that children understand from an early age that eating a healthy balanced diet and taking regular exercise can give them the best start in life. Eating fish rich in Omega 3 such as salmon can offer many health benefits to people of all ages. We look forward to further workshops taking place later this year.”
Following their workshop experience, each child filled out a questionnaire, and analysis of these showed an overall positive response to the content and its educational value. Asked what their favorite part of the workshop was, 46 percent enjoyed tasting the seafood, 22 percent liked seeing live fish and shellfish and holding them, and 20 percent appreciated the cooking demonstrations or active cooking sessions. Parental feedback after a seafood tasting workshop showed that many children requested fish at home afterwards.
Seventy-six percent said they learned something new about seafood at the workshops, 83 percent tried a new seafood and 71 percent said that taking part in the event had changed how much seafood they now wanted to eat.
Evening community sessions were held at the majority of schools, at which parents and siblings experienced the same workshops and ate the same seafood.
“These sessions help to reinforce messaging about the importance for all ages, of eating seafood,” said Seafood Scotland’s Nicki Holmyard. “We also provided continuing professional development sessions for round 1000 teachers during the year, which means they are now more confident in using seafood as a context for learning in the classroom, and how to apply it throughout Curriculum for Excellence.”
The project, which is funded by Scottish Government, is also supported by Fish for Health, Seafish, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organization, the Scottish Fishermen’s Trust and the Scottish White Fish Producers Association.
“This has been a hugely successful year for Seafood in Schools and it is fantastic to see so many young people learning about fishing and aquaculture — where seafood comes from, how it reaches our plates and why eating it is good for us,” said Richard Lochhead, Scotland Food Minister. “This is key if we are to achieve our aims of Scotland becoming a good food nation, and I am delighted that the Scottish Government is continuing to fund this initiative, which is also supported by industry and local businesses.”