The new three-year Seafood in Schools programme kicked off at Brechin High last week, with around 500 high school and primary children attending a series of workshops to help them become familiar with Scottish fish and shellfish.
Top Scottish chefs Nick Nairn and Alexandria Hay hosted cookery classes, ably assisted by students from Angus College, local fishmongers Stephens gave fish filleting and oyster opening demonstrations, and Seafood Scotland put on a fish and shellfish display and an interactive session exploring the journey of seafood from sea to plate. In the playground, Ian Spink demonstrated how to make Arbroath Smokies, which the pupils found fascinating.
Seafood in Schools also teamed up with the 'Fish for Health' project, which provided a seafood tasting session reinforced with healthy eating information, and a Trixter bike, which enabled pupils to see how much energy they need to expend to burn calories. "The bike was an eye opener for many pupils, when they realised that a fast ten minute cycle can burn off less than a quarter of the calories in a crisp packet!" said Catriona Frankitti of Fish For Health.
Top of the tasting sessions was smoked trout, with mussels running a close second. Oysters donated by Caledonian Oysters proved an unexpected success; of the 100 pupils tasting them, more than half declared oysters delicious!
For schools, a key part of participating in the Seafood in Schools programme is the undertaking of interdisciplinary projects using seafood as a context for learning, and the Brechin schools are busy putting their ideas into practice.
"We were really impressed with the quality of the workshops and the kids were 'buzzing' with all the information they learned. They are really keen to get going with their new seafood projects now," said Brechin High School's transition teacher Vivien Rose.
Her words were echoed by headmaster Steve Dempsey. "This was a wonderful opportunity for pupils to gain an insight into the benefits of eating seafood as part of a healthy and balanced diet, and I am grateful to Seafood in Schools for organising the event," he stated.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead, MSP, said: "Seafood in Schools is an excellent programme that is giving many young people throughout the country the opportunity to learn about healthy Scottish seafood, where it comes from and why it is good for them. At Brechin High School pupils had opportunities to handle, prepare and taste Scottish seafood and I'm sure that the demonstrations from Nick Nairn will inspire the youngsters to try new types of seafood in future."
Evening workshops were also held for relatives and friends of the pupils, and were attended.
"The event was a huge success and we are grateful for the support and assistance given by our seafood sponsors and to the teachers for receiving us so enthusiastically. We are looking forward to reviewing their ongoing work," said project manager Nicki Holmyard.