Qualifications must be earned with hard work and dedication

19 October 2006
Qualifications must be earned with hard work and dedication

In response to Carol Hopkins's letter (Caterer, 5 October](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2006/10/05/309325/Bring+back+chefs+exams.htm)) I completely agree with her - standards and morale are at an all-time low.

I've been a chef for the past 20 years and have had exactly the same frustrations. I've been exasperated over the years by the appalling level at which many students finish college. I've had commis chefs who, after two years at college, can't even make a simple soup and have no idea how to hold a piping bag or make a soufflé.

I thought I would gain my teaching qualifications and try to make a difference, but then when you've gone to all that trouble you realise that it's not the teachers and lecturers who are at fault but the whole system.

It's a money-orientated, bureaucratic system with no real regard for standards. The way NVQs are assessed in the workplace, from my experience, is a complete joke.

Trainee chefs with little or no ability are passed because the assessor "can't come back another day". As a head chef I was constantly under pressure from the NVQ assessor for the establishment where I worked to sign forms for work that hadn't been completed, something I always refused to do, much to their annoyance.

It's not fair on the industry and certainly not fair on the hard-working students who have learnt well and are hungry for the challenges the industry offers.

Qualifications should be earned with hard work and dedication - not just dished out to anyone who turns up.

Let's bring back some good training standards and differentiate between the turner-uppers and workers.

Christine McCheyne
Frustrated chef and part-time lecturer, Hibaldstow, Brigg, Lincolnshire

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