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Catering services vacancies

Our catering services are expanding- join our team!

This an exciting time to become a member of our catering services as we continue the roll-out of the Universal Primary Free School meals initiative to 51 schools across Bridgend County Borough.

Primary school pupils in Years 1,2,3 and 4 and full-time nursery pupils have already benefitted from the free school meal offer, and we have a great opportunity for kitchen assistants, assistant cooks, and cooks to join our growing teams as the service is further rolled out to pupils in Years 5 and 6, in line with Welsh Government requirements.

Our staff are key to our services, and we’re pleased that they have been recognised for the outstanding service they provide to children across the county borough, including their 5-star hygiene rated kitchens, and winning nationwide awards.

Why join us?

Bridgend County Borough is a great place to work, and we can offer excellent opportunities for you to progress your career; for example, if you start with us as a kitchen assistant, we can provide you with the necessary training to progress to an assistant cook, and cook.

Our other benefits include:

  • competitive rates of pay
  • generous staff pension scheme
  • various working hours available
  • term-time only hours
  • supportive working environment
  • on-the-job training

Meet our school catering teams!

Clare Squire, Cook at Brynmenyn Primary School, Shan Price, Cook at Pîl Primary School and Katherine Underhill, Cook at Cefn Cribbwr Primary School, provide meals for over 470 children each day between them, and have over 60 years’ combined experience in Catering Services.

You all have a lot of experience within the Catering Services, how did you start off your career with the council?

Shan: Well, I have worked in schools across the county borough for 22 years, I have been at Pîl Primary School for a year now, but I must have worked in 30 or 40 schools over the years. I wanted to join as a General Kitchen Assistant (GKA) but my supervisor who I had worked with previously, started me as a Cook straightaway, and I have been here ever since!

Clare: I have been with the council for around 22 years too. I joined as a GKA when my son started primary school, as I was looking for a job that fitted around my children being in school, and then within a year or two I had progressed to a Cook.

Katherine: I joined in March 2008, and then by September 2008 I started cooking at Cefn Cribbwr Primary School and I’m still there!

Can you describe a typical day in the life of a school Cook?

Shan: We’re supposed to work 9am-2pm, but I’m always in early as I like to make sure that everything's running for breakfast club, but it’s down to each individual cook really. I've always liked to come in early to make sure things are ready for the day.

Clare: Same, I do breakfast club as well in Brynmenyn Primary School and I start at 8am. We come in and prep toast, cereals, juice and fruit, and then we serve the children. We have 130 children in our breakfast club, so it’s quite a big one!

Katherine: I do breakfast club too. I start at 8am and am in until 2pm. Depending on how many children we’ve had that day it might be a little bit later, but normally I finish at 2pm.

Shan: After breakfast club, we will get a confirmed number of lunchtime meals from the school secretary. After a while you get to know on average how many meals a day we will be serving. We prep and serve about 135 meals a day, and I have an Assistant Cook and two GKAs in my team. All schools work with the same menus but the children in each school like different things, so it’s getting the meals prepped and working out portion sizes and vegetarian options, and fresh salads, fruit and puddings.

Katherine: I have two GKAs in my team, and we serve about 85-95 meals a day. We all cook from scratch, but we do have some items that are frozen, where we will add sauces and vegetables etc, and things like that, for example for bolognese and chicken curry, we have the frozen meat, but we prepare and add all the rest. Vegetarian options like lentil shepherds pie we make from scratch.

Clare: I have a team of 8 including Assistant Cooks and GKAs, and we prepare and serve between 240 and 280 meals a day, more when we are serving on pizza day! So, as well as the prepping and serving we also use the cashless tills for pupils’ meals, and then in the office ordering stock, paying wages and other admin. duties.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Clare: I love my job, I tell everyone that I love my job, it’s really rewarding. My team are like family, and we’re also part of the school community and socialise with teachers too. You get to form bonds with the children as well because you see them coming in from Nursery all the way through to Year 6 when they leave. They are like part of your extended family, and you do feel protective of them. Some of the children who were in school when I started now have children of their own here as well, so you are seeing different generations of the same family.

Shan: It’s not just working with the children that I love, it’s also being part of a team. If you’re working with a great team, it is like a little family, and it’s a very social job, and we all socialise together. I love working in a team and over the years I've worked with so many and in every school I've been in, everybody's been brilliant. I get parents coming up to me on the street asking me how I cook certain things as their children will only eat meals the way I have cooked them, and it’s just so rewarding to see how you have helped pupils to develop, encouraging them to try other foods. I have entered our school into the ‘Eat them to defeat them’ competitions where we think of ways to encourage the children to eat more vegetables, I’ve made displays and we came second once, and highly commended in 2022, so I am hoping to improve on that this year! 

Clare: We have won kitchen of the year previously, and I’m keeping that for every year!

Katherine: Like the others have said, it’s a very rewarding role, and it’s great to see that the children still remember you when they are older, When you see them out and about in their twenties and they still call me the dinner lady, even all these years later.

What would you say to anyone who is looking to start their career with Catering Services?

Clare: If you’re a parent looking to find work that fits around school hours, there is no better job. You get all the holidays off and get to spend time with your children or grandchildren, without worrying about finding childcare. Having time to be there for concerts and sports days, it’s a great fit for working parents.

Katherine: It’s a well-paid job too, and even over the school holidays we still get paid. We’re pro rata’d so we get the same wage throughout the year, whether we are in or off.

Shan: The training and career opportunities available are just brilliant. There is a clear and quick progression for GKAs to become Cooks, and the skills you learn can be used anywhere. You can train on the job as well, so if you are keen and show willing to progress, you can become an Assistant Cook in just a couple of months.

Emma Bennett, Catering Operational Manager.

“I started with catering services over 22 years ago as a general kitchen assistant. My children were of school age, and I was employed as a chef, however the hours in the hospitality industry didn’t suit my family.

I decided to work for school meals as a temporary measure until my children were older. I quickly realised that I could progress to an assistant cook or cook, as the service was very keen to develop staff with potential. I became the cook at Heronsbridge school which I enjoyed for several years before I became an area supervisor and then operations manager.

During the years I have been employed I have received lots of training and development but most importantly support and encouragement. Most of the catering management team have developed through the service, all starting their career as general kitchen assistants.”

About the roles

General Kitchen Assistant

£12 per hour

  • Duties will include assisting in the preparation, presentation and service of school meals, whilst providing a safe, clean environment to pupils and staff. You will be required to lay out dining tables and chairs and in some schools, operate a touch screen terminal.

Assistant Cook

£12.59 per hour

  • Duties will include assisting the Cook with the preparation of school meals and assist in providing training and organisation of staff within the kitchen.

Cook Primary School / Secondary School

£13.69 - £14.17 per hour / £15.17 - £15.70 per hour

  • Duties will include managing and co-ordinating day to day activities within a new kitchen, ensuring a quality service is provided to all customers and be responsible for menu planning, portion control, preparation and cooking within the kitchen.

How to apply

If you would like to join an ambitious service and keen to provide the best services possible, are enthusiastic, like working with children, or are looking for a job to fit around your family commitments, we would love for you to apply!

Visit the Council’s Job Portal to view current vacancies and complete your application.

If you are interested in joining and have any questions, we are keen to answer them – please contact Emma Bennett (Catering Service) on 01656 815964.

If you are struggling to complete an application, please contact our Trent Help Desk on 01656 643698.

Employability Bridgend are on hand to support residents of Bridgend County Borough with all aspects of employment and are able to help you to submit your application and support you in finding a role (including providing training, advice and guidance).

Protecting children, young people or adults at risk is a core responsibility of all council employees.

Applicants should note that a criminal records check by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will be necessary for the successful applicants.

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