I first had the idea to do a special issue on self-managed school caterers just over a year ago. I was invited to visit a school and as soon as I got there I realised that they didn’t know if what they were doing was good, bad, or somewhere in between. But they wanted to improve things and didn’t know where to start. Sometimes many of us will be so involved with our day jobs, combined with LACA meetings, or area manager meetings, or busy chatting to other school chefs on Twitter, that we forget that there are some people who are doing the same job but with no one else to chat to and bounce ideas from. So, we decided to conduct some research (page 16) and phoned 1,000 self-managed academy schools to ask whether or not they felt isolated. Of the 844 responses we received, 82% actually said that they didn’t feel isolated and many have found ways to receive the help and support they need, be it joining networking groups, using the help of their suppliers or actively going out to visit other school kitchens. Of course, there are those who do feel isolated and hopefully in this issue we have tackled that problem head on by talking about it. We have visited three great self-managed schools this month, Park Community School in Hampshire (page 12), Ravenscliffe High School in Halifax (page 20) and Mendip Green Primary School in Weston-super-Mare (page 24), which I hope will inspire you to look beyond the servery and see what others in your situation are doing. I know that these three will certainly welcome you with open arms, as will many others. If you think you’re doing a great job then enter the EDUcatering Awards at educateringawards.co.uk, just like Steve Fowell at Mendip Green did last year and went on to win. And get yourself down to the EDUcatering Forum in London on 28th November and meet other school caterers like you. More details will be announced soon!