AT WORK: Sam Green, Chloe Coles, James Bould, teacher Kat White and Angus Birrell take part in the Kneaded program every Friday at Ipswich State High School.
AT WORK: Sam Green, Chloe Coles, James Bould, teacher Kat White and Angus Birrell take part in the Kneaded program every Friday at Ipswich State High School. Rob Williams

School baking program developing more than cooking skills

THE smell of freshly baked bread has become a familiar scent on a Friday morning for the staff and students at Ipswich State High School.

It is created by the eight participants of the Kneaded program, which was established this year after a successful pilot at the end of 2018.

Over the course of the current school term, it has yielded much more than a yummy treat to share with friends and family.

Kids were selected because they had problems behaving in class, were consistently absent or have struggled to find their place.

Each lessons begins with the same steps; making a well in the centre of the flour, adding lukewarm water, sugar and yeast before starting on a new speciality recipe.

The project is run by inclusive education teacher Katherine White, who grew up making bread with her mum and wanted to create an environment for students who had become disengaged with their learning.

For the students involved, it's about more than just developing new skills in the kitchen.

She had seen them grow in confidence with their numeracy, literacy and organisation and perhaps most importantly, built strong bonds with each other that had carried on outside of school.

"They can be pushed to the margins a little bit and so it's a process of trying to gather them in, draw them into something that's special and they feel they're doing something together rather than having them feel like they're alienated or don't have a place," Ms White said.

"They have a place in the school and something they enjoy and they love and can give them some life skills to then take back to their classes and other parts of their lives.

"There's patience involved, there's time, it's not just quick. You have to have patience and see a project through from beginning to end. I thought doing that sort of thing would be beneficial for them in their school work and their jobs.

"They really love making it for other people. They know it's here every Friday."

The flexible program, held over three periods, allows the kids to head off to normal lessons if they wish to or if they need to complete assessment, with their mates chipping in while they're gone to make sure everything goes smoothly for everyone.

"I'm finding I end up mainly doing the washing up at the end," Ms White laughed.

"They do help with the dishes... I'm really just managing around the edges of the table.

"One of the mothers said her son and another boy in the program have got together outside the school since this and teachers have commented with these particular students, they're in same the class together and one has really started helping the other in class. He's sitting there and peer mentoring just like he has with the bread making.

"This is a student who has difficulties himself but how wonderful for him to feel he can help someone else."

One of the participants, James Bould, now wants to be a baker's apprentice.

"(They can) just seem quietly lost within the school environment, and have trouble finding what they are good at, finding what inspires them and makes them feel really great about themselves," Ms White said.

The school is hoping to forge links with local bakeries so experienced bakers can visit to share their expertise.