The current National Curriculum (England) for D&T Cooking and Nutrition Key Stage 1-3 has been in place since 2014 and is likely to be reviewed shortly. A lot has happened since 2014, including:
- more schools becoming academies and adapting versions of national curriculum subjects
- the publication of core food competences (adopted internationally) that set out in detail what should be learned by key age related points
- the removal of A Levels in Home Economics: Food and Nutrition and Food Technology – see articles by Davies/Ballam and Davies
- food teaching ‘standards’ for teachers – knoweldge and skills (primary and secondary)
- publication of characteristics of good practice in food teaching (primary, secondary and additional needs)
- research into the curriculum and food teaching: Food Education Learning Landscape
- publication of key government policy documents, such as the National Food Strategy recommendation and Levelling up reports, exploring how food and diet underpins the health, well-being and potential of our society and expressing concern that too many young people are still leaving education without the skills and knowledge to cook and live healthily
- Government promoting accountability and transparency of school food arrangements by encouraging schools to complete a statement on their school websites, which sets out their whole school approach to food.
In 2023 key players have begun to ask questions of the Food Teachers Centre to understand the shape and content of food education ready for any curriculum change in England.
These are big questions. If all young people are to get an opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge to cook and live healthily, how should schools plan and implement this? Food has been part of Design and Technology since the start of the National Curriculum in the 1990s; should it remain as part of this subject? Should it stand outside of D&T?
There are strengths and weaknesses in the different positions and plans that might be adopted by schools. But what will lead to a strong position for food education?
The Future of Food (England) Survey Headlines
This survey was divided into two distinct sets of questions. Firstly, it starts with asking teachers about the subject and curriculum that they teach NOW to give an overview of how schools are currently interpreting the national curriculum requirements. Secondly, it asks about the FUTURE, and the choices and changes that teachers would make with regards to the next steps of curriculum change.
Food education now
- 75% are in D&T
- Only 38% agree/strongly agree that there is enough time to deliver the curriculum effectively
- 33% are timetabled on rotation for one term, 21% rotation for half year, 18% weekly throughout year
- Teaching focus: significant for healthy eating, cooking and food hygiene
- Majority believe that there is a lack of exam choice post 16
Food education future
- 75% wish to remove Food and Nutrition from D&T
- Majority believe should be a stand-alone subject (and say that their SLT would agree)
- 64% believe that the ‘food’ time for D&T should be removed from D&T
- Timetabling – 65% ask for this to be weekly throughout year
- Teaching focus: significant for healthy eating, cooking, food hygiene, and planning & cooking for yourself
- 87% believe that sustainability should be included
- 92% ask to continue current GCSE (less science, NEA1)
- Majority want an A-level