Spring greetings from Omnia

Sunny spring greetings from Omnia’s Lakelankatu department’s Cooks’ Guild School original (in Finnish Kokkikilta Original Espoo). Omnia is a multisectoral education provider and regional development center. We offer innovative learning environments and beneficial partnerships both in national and international education development projects. In this article, however, I will describe the activities of Omnia Lakelankatu department and more precisely the Guild School model (Flexible pathways).

Photo 1. Kokkikilta Original Espoo, logo

At the moment Omnia Lakelankatu department (Catering sector) has one professional guild that operates as an umbrella organization including chef/cook students, waiter/waitress students, and baker-confectioner students. The Hotel, Restaurant and Catering services sector was given the first cooks’ Guild School logo on 13.2.2017. Guild School credentials are awarded to schools and more precisely to educational sectors that operate in an entrepreneurial and professional way. The Guild Schools Network has set criteria for obtaining and maintaining the status of a guild school:

1. Open learning material is used.

2. Students make their learning and knowledge visible in digital environment.

3. The beginner guild has to show evidence that they have started to use peer learning, teamwork and / or master-apprentice model.

4. Focus is on group functionality and positive atmosphere

5. Work-based learning with emphasis on project work “From the start of your studies, you will be building your own unique learning path that will support you towards your professional goals.

Photo 2. Arja Allekotte, Oona Haapakorpi, Anu Konkarikoski and Jari Välkynen

Kokkikilta Original officially started its actions on Monday, February 13, 2017 when Mr Jari Välkkynen, the “father” of the guild school model, gave the official Guild School logo to senior lecturers Mrs Oona Haapakorpi and Mrs Arja Allekotte. After that Kokkikilta Original got very quickly the credentials (i.e. Guild School arms) in a Pop-up event in September 2017. For this reason, 2018 new Guild School project the project was written the waiter Guild School model and the bakery Guild School model. When Omnia started creating open materials for Guild Schools in the new Guild School project (2018-2020) we decided to also include sections for waiter/waitress and baker-confectioner students.

In January 15, 2019 in Salo, Finland Omnia had the honor to receive the honorary mention of being the best Guild School of the year 2019. This coat of arms was received by senior lecturers Mr Heikki Tuovinen, Mrs Merja Leivo and Mrs Oona Haapakorpi. At the same occasion also the best student’s open portfolio of the year was chosen. This honor was awarded to Omnia’s Guild School bakery student Ms Jenna Söderberg. She had also participated in International activities through an Erasmus+ KA2 project Healthy food choices for a sustainable future.

Photo 3.  Congratulations ceremony in Lakelankatu

Transparency and open material

Our teaching is based on transparency. For this reason, the Kokkikilta original teaching material is open for everyone and it can be found on the kokkikilta.fi website. During their studies, students are making an open professional portfolio, whose use encourages students to reflect on what they have learned. This makes it easy for teachers to see the progress of student’s learning (for example with pictures, videos and text).

Different international projects in Lakelankatu

One of our projects, that has just finished was called The Healthy food choices for a sustainable future. This project was a two-year Erasmus+ KA2 project. It was a development project for the food service industry. In this project we developed 42 Open Badges for Sustainable Development and two professional e-books for the Restaurant and Catering industry.

This development project was the first of its kind in Vocational Education and Training in Finland. The project has deepened co-operation between Omnia and Etelä-Kymenlaakso Vocational College Ekami educational institutes and has inspired a united, open-minded operating model between them: e.g. Guild Schools, especially Cooks’ Guild Schools, whose main theme is digital development. In the Guild School model, the active students acquire different professional skills and prepare for working-life using a variety of social media tools.

Link: e-book

Link: e-guide

During this project, the students were developing recipes and business ideas for e-books: an e-book which has 34 recipes created by students and the second e-book that has 4 business ideas for a pop-up restaurant developed by students. During this project, students also competed in Croatia and visited food sources in Italy.

Photo 6. International Cooking competition

It is good to remember that Omnia’s students have access to international exchanges every year. You can see in the following pictures the students who have already been working in Lisbon in a two Michelin star restaurant. During these periods of work-based learning, the students always write and describe the things they have learned during the work-based learning period in their professional blogs.

Photo 7. Former student from Omnia Riina Sinkko and  Américo dos Santos, Pastry Chef from two Michelin Star Belcanto

Text & photos: Oona Haapakorpi, Omnia