News story

Army chefs' recipe for success in Afghanistan

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

British Army cooks have achieved a record number of educational qualifications while deployed in Afghanistan.

Army chef Private Danni Alexander cooks under the instruction of Staff Sergeant Adam Sinclair [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]
Army chef cooks under instruction

Military chefs deployed to Helmand province on Operation Herrick 18 have achieved an impressive 55 National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), equivalent to UK AS levels, in either customer services or facilities management.

Using their busy daily routines as an immersive learning environment, the chefs effectively studied for their qualifications on the job, constantly striving to improve their skills while catering for troops on operations.

These are just two of the many courses and qualifications which troops are able to tackle while they serve their country around the world.

Army chefs working on written assignments
Staff Sergeant Adam Sinclair guides 2 Army chefs through written units towards their NVQs [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

The NVQ scheme runs at 8 levels, with levels 1 and 2 being equivalent to GCSE-level learning and level 8 equal to a doctorate.

Staff Sergeant Adam Sinclair was the lead coordinator for education in the group:

It’s really nice to see the chefs reap the rewards after some hard work, and we’ve had some good feedback from the soldiers they were feeding,” he said.

Operations are a great place to achieve qualifications as they are work-based. It makes sense to do them on ops because you are focused and away from outside influences.

Staff Sergeant Sinclair has been involved as an NVQ coordinator for 8 years. He ensured that all the chefs, no matter how austere or remote their location, completed and submitted any work required. He said:

I see it as giving something back. As a young soldier there were those who took the time to get me through my professional education and I just want to give something back.

Staff Sergeant Adam Sinclair
Staff Sergeant Adam Sinclair [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

Staff Sergeant Sinclair has also helped the most senior chef in Helmand, Regimental Sergeant Major Jay Goodchild, to achieve the first ever level 4 qualification in hospitality and management on operations.

Mr Goodchild said:

I felt that, as I had asked my guys to do the work, I should set an example. In all I have submitted about 12,000 words for the assessment, which is more than I’d anticipated, on top of my normal workload. It’s been tough to achieve it, but it’s satisfying to have done it.

Unlocking potential

The Armed Forces take great pride in providing challenging and constructive education and training opportunities for young people, equipping them with valuable and transferable skills.

Army chef cooks under instruction
Army chef Private Danni Alexander cooks under the instruction of Staff Sergeant Adam Sinclair [Picture: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright]

The Services are among the largest training providers in the UK, with support for education ranging from entry-level literacy and numeracy to full postgraduate degrees.

Troops are offered progression routes that allow them to develop, gain qualifications and reach their potential either in the Armed Forces or in the civilian world.

Published 23 September 2013