Supporting Devonport High School for Boys through
Covid-19 challenges and beyond

Devonport High School Catering Case Study


With a low uptake of meals at the school, and a poor view of catering in general, Devonport contracted allmanhall, the independently owned food procurement experts, to provide consultation to overhaul the catering service and improve the food offering. The goal was to provide a service both pupils and the school could be proud of.

“[allmanhall are] absolute experts in their field. With their support and knowledge we have reviewed the staffing structure and reassessed the food offering to both comply with the School Food Plan.”

Devonport School for Boys logo


Devonport High School for Boys is a large grammar school made up of just over 1000 boys aged between 11 to 18 years. The school is based in Plymouth and operates an in-house catering system.

What did the client need?

On securing the contract allmanhall set about investigating areas where improvements could be made, to meet these objectives in a safe and hygienic manner, whilst ensuring food compliance with the school food standards.

It became apparent that one of the biggest areas that needed attention was working around the restrictive COVID regulations that had been implemented during the pandemic, which were still in place, and were hampering the food offering and its quality.

What was the result?

  •  Food offering

A reluctance to remove the locally imposed COVID restrictions in respects of students mixing at meal-times was hampering the food on offer. By maintaining a structure where year groups did not mix in public places including the dining facilities, to ensure all pupils were fed in a limited time, available food could not be segregated out by location.  The site has 3 main outlets, and each would benefit from having its own food offering allowing students to make the choice of which outlet to visit based on the food that is found in that location.  The same COVID restrictions were also having an impact on the staff morale and quality of the food, as all food was offered in all locations to facilitate a fair offering to all pupils. Foods that don’t particularly travel well were having to be transported to all locations.

Mixing restrictions have now been removed, and allmanhall was able to introduce a three-week compliant menu in the main dining hall, with the removal of the heavy usage of convenience food and replaced with alternative handheld, homemade, healthier alternatives.  Branded items such as Pasta King, Theo’s and Real Wrap were introduced giving a high street approach to the service offer. As the food offer has stabilised, the overall uptake across the entire campus has increased.

  •  Staffing

A review of the staffing structure was conducted to improve efficiencies and resulted in the appointment of a new Catering Manager. Designated areas were given leadership and ownership, allowing individual teams, under the guidance of the manager, to have their own input and develop their own style to meet the needs of the customers.  One area in particular where this thrived was the 6th form.  Following meeting with the students, a service offer was developed and delivered meeting both their needs and expectations, changing on a daily basis. The offer moved away from chips served daily to a healthy option, with chips as a ‘special’ once per week. Uptake increased dramatically and immediately, along with pupil satisfaction.

  •  Training

This was provided by allmanhall for the school’s current on-site team, ranging from general management skills to food hygiene, moving on to understanding the school food plan and the implications of this alongside Natasha’s Law.  The result was an improvement in the skill ability within the team, and a more positive morale amongst staff.

  •  Health & Hygiene 

allmanhall completed a comprehensive Health, Safety and Hygiene audit which again was presented to the senior leadership of the school, and this has resulted in new heavy equipment being purchased to replace old non-compliant machinery

With the final tweaks to recommendations soon to be implemented and the training now received by all the team, 100% compliance on guidance laid down by the Government should be reached by the end of the current academic year.

What did the client say?

“[allmanhall are] absolute experts in their field. With their support and knowledge we have reviewed the staffing structure and reassessed the food offering to both comply with the School Food Plan and also meet the expectations of our students.

We find allmanhall proactive in managing price increases and decreases… extremely responsive when needed.

The introduction of Procure Wizard ensures we continually have access to the best price and can easily manage our stock.

allmanhall are a critical partner who totally get our objectives and goals, and are supportive in helping us achieve them”

– John McConnell, Estate Manager, Devonport High School for Boys

allmanhall are continuing to support the school on its journey and the next steps include more internal communications with pupils to consistently meet their needs and expectations, and the potential of introducing Food for Life as a benchmark highlighting the commitment of the school to their meal service.  

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