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Seafood in Schools: Marine Fund Scotland case study.  A part of the 2022-23 Marine Fund Scotland, Scottish Government awarded £40k to Seafood Scotland’s ‘Seafood in Schools’ scheme. This educational initiative teaches school pupils about the health benefits of seafood, as well as providing an insight into the range of careers available across the marine supply chain.

Seafood Scotland Chief Executive Officer, Donna Fordyce shares more:

“Engaging with school children and their influencers is vital for our sector. It helps us inform them not only how tasty our seafood is, but also of the nutritional value of eating seafood. That it’s versatile and economical to cook, and how vital and varied this sector is in terms of the species you can find around Scotland.

“We realised the importance of this, not only to ensure young people are eating seafood, but at a time when we’re seeing huge skills shortages across the industry – it’s imperative that we educate young people on the opportunities available to them within the seafood sector.

“Following a successful pilot scheme with primary schools in the northeast, Marine Fund Scotland provided funding to support this initiative to roll out the workshops across central Scotland.

“The initial trial programme had consisted of five workshops in Peterhead and Fraserburgh primary schools, tapping into an area that’s at the heart of our seafood sector. The success of these and the funding allowed for a further series of 31 workshops across the central belt, reaching primary 4, 5 and 6 pupils.

“The workshops were dynamic and fun including a short presentation on seafood – what species there are, the nutritional benefits, how sustainable the sector is and why it’s important to our local and national economies. This was followed by interactive games and a cookery workshop where the children got to sample salmon, whitefish, and mackerel dishes. This proved a huge hit with the children and teachers – some of them tasting these fish for the first time.

“As a takeaway to the workshops, all pupils were given recipe cards on the dishes they tried, along with some tins of mackerel, rice or noodles and stationary items. This meant the children could recreate the dishes at home and talk to their parents about what they’d learnt that day.

“We are very grateful to the Scottish seafood sector for supporting this initiative and supplying free products for us to use in schools.

“The project surpassed expectations, with over 800 pupils taking part (our target had been 500), 16 schools hosting us, four more than our target of 12, and following a full evaluation amongst teachers and pupils, the feedback was 100% positive.

The results showed 58% of pupils would want to eat more seafood, 83% tried seafood they hadn’t tasted before and 84% said they learnt something new about seafood.

“As the next stage of the initiative, we’re looking to target secondary school children, specifically Senior 2 pupils who are about to choose their subjects to take to exam level. We’re currently setting up pilot workshops in Fraserburgh and Peterhead with similar activity to the primary workshops, but with more of a focus on the vocational opportunities there are across the sector.  As part of our informative session, we’re talking through a ‘sea to plate’ journey across the seafood sector, highlighting the breadth of jobs needed to bring fish to the dinner plate.

“The hope is that following these workshops, more funding is available to expand the secondary schools’ workshops into more areas to help us encourage school leavers to find work in the sector and continue to build on our vital industry.”