Centre: Jamie’s Ministry of Food Geelong

Location: Geelong, Victoria

Christian College Geelong introduced the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) to their year 11 students in 2015. VCAL is a hands-on alternative to VCE for Year 11 and 12 students, providing practical work-related experience, literacy, numeracy and personal skills that are important for life and work.
Deborah Hunniford, English and VCAL teacher at Christian College teaches VCAL Work Related Skills. Deborah had previously completed the Jamie’s Ministry of Food course in 2015 and saw the benefits first hand, recognising that the program would tie in with a number of learning outcomes for VCAL Senior Work-Related Skills.
The relevant learning outcomes relating back to the Work-Related Skills units include; teamwork, communication, setting and achieving objectives, problem solving, correct use of equipment, and health and safety in a work environment.

Life Skills

The first VCAL group from Christian College to participate in the Jamie’s Ministry of Food program in Geelong has resulted in many positive outcomes for not only the individual students, but the school itself.

Setting the students up with life skills was a priority for Christian College and the program has benefited the students on a personal level. Aside from the nutritional and health benefits the students acquire from learning to cook from scratch, Deborah has noticed the students’ self-management skills and independence increase. Communication and teamwork has also developed throughout the 7 week course.

Employability Skills

Employability skills for the future was also a factor for sending the VCAL students through the Jamie’s Ministry of Food program, to experience the learning outcomes in a work-related environment. Student Justin is also training to be a chef, currently working in 2 restaurant kitchens with plans to study full-time next year. Justin enjoyed sharing his passion for food with his peers and they in turn picked up lots of tips from him, Justin discovered that ‘everyone has different techniques’ in the kitchen.


From our experience with group cooking classes, Jamie’s Ministry of Food recognises that the program provides life skills and builds confidence in the individual. The program’s core is about food, but what happens over the 7-week program extends to social connectedness and teamwork competency.

The group worked really well together: feedback from the students in regards to teamwork included what they learned from their fellow participants. Some comments from the students include; ‘cooking is better with others around’, ‘cooking is more enjoyable with friends’ and many of the students have proudly cooked some of the recipes at home for their family.

Improved VCAL Engagement

Deborah was pleasantly surprised that Jamie’s Ministry of Food has helped to increase the students’ overall engagement in VCAL, ‘attendance is always high on the days we have Jamie’s Ministry of Food’. Deborah also noted the confidence and the friendships among the group strengthening and developing ‘team’ mentality. The students learnt how to make better nutritional choices and Deborah was happy the group were overcoming the gender bias that cooking is the females’ role.

Student Feedback

The number one thing the students learned from the Jamie’s Ministry of Food program that they will incorporate into everyday life includes: ‘I now know how to properly prepare a safe and healthy meal’, ‘knife skills’, ‘learning about a balanced diet’, ‘how long to boil eggs for’.
Deborah is proud of her VCAL students who recently showcased their skills by cooking lunch for the Senior School staff. They made tortilla wraps, salsa and fruit salad cups. Deborah will recommend the program for year 12 VCAL students and we look forward to welcoming the next group of VCAL students through the Jamie’s Ministry of Food program in Geelong.