SPOTLIGHT ON: Small Schools Taskforce (Action 15)

6 Nov 2013

Small schools face even greater challenges in delivering great school meals than their larger counterparts. With less students to serve, economies of scale are tougher to come by. Many are primaries or located in hard to reach rural areas, often without full kitchens on site.

Enter Brad Pearce. Fresh from leading Plymouth City Council to win the coveted Local Authority Caterer of the Year award at the EDUcatering Excellence Awards 2013, Brad has joined the School Food Plan delivery team as Project Manager for the Small Schools Pilot.

The pilot is backed by the Small Schools Taskforce, a cross-sector coalition of caterers, kitchen designers, manufacturers, support organisations, and others, working together to provide good food for small schools. With the support of this public-private alliance, Brad will be leading an initiative to work with around 30 small schools in a rural area to develop a model of group purchasing and other innovative measures that will deliver tasty, nutritious food to children while also enabling the meals service to break even.

Devon and Cornwall have been selected as the pilot areas. As Brad explains: “I know from personal experience that here in Devon, we have a particularly high proportion of small and rural schools – some with as few as 15 pupils. It’s a similar situation in Cornwall. Independent of the pilot, we’ve already received many messages from small schools in these two counties asking for help. Everyone – teachers, parents, caterers – is keen to make this a success.”

Brad is committed to ensuring all small schools get the support they need to serve good food: ‘We may be working in the South West for now, but this pilot is for every small school out there with a struggling meals service. With 3,800 small primary schools (fewer than 150 pupils) in England, this is critical work.’ The findings of the pilot will be shared publicly, so small schools across the country can learn what works well.

Reflecting on his first week on the job, Brad reports: “I’ve already been talking to schools as far apart as Cumbria and North Cornwall, recruiting schools to the pilot! This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to make a real difference and show what can be achieved, providing fresh, appetising, and appealing food to children in a sustainable and viable way. I’d love to hear from small schools in Devon and Cornwall who think that they’d like to be part of the project – get in touch, get involved!’

Are you from a small school? We’d love to hear from you. Share your story of the challenges faced and what works well by emailing

Would you like to be a part of the small schools pilot? Contact Brad Pearce direct at

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