With all the headlines talking about ‘cooking’, it’s a mistake to think that teachers are simply teaching a set of recipes to be followed step by step. This is not true. The new curriculum ‘cooking and nutrition’ section has clear themes, which sets out the knowledge and skills to be taught.
- Nutrition and healthy eating
- Feeding themselves affordably and well
- Where food comes from
- Characteristics of ingredients
- Cooking a repertoire of predominantly savoury dishes – for a healthy varied diet
- Learning cooking techniques, sensory skills, and being able to adapt and use their own recipes,
So what’s an acceptable range of cooking techniques and which recipes do we choose that demonstrate those skills. A good rule of thumb is to allow sufficient time for practical food in the scheme of work, and that pupils cook things appropriate to their culture and values, that meet nutritional guidelines, help them to feed themselves within a budget and are useful to them now and in later life. There is not statutory number of hours for cooking, although there is an expectation that this will be regular, probably every week, with a greater focus on healthier recipes, practical learning and less paper based designing or research activities.
Unfortunately for some teachers, high quality lessons are still prevented by the same issues identified by OFSTED in their last detailed Food Technology report in 2006. These issues include food’s low status in schools, lack of technician time, insufficient budget for ingredients, and class sizes that exceed health and safety limits facing very short practical lessons. You need to talk to the senior leaders in tour school if these things are still an issue for you.
School Food Champions
Those schools and senior management teams that recognise the contribution of food teaching to the whole school and pupil’s wellbeing will score well with OFSTED. Many schools recognise how this can positively impact upon attainment in all subjects and improved behaviour.
These schools have resolved the issues that have held back high quality teaching in the past
- Improving Food’s low status in the school by adopting a whole school food approach,
- Employing technicians so that teachers can focus on teaching and avoid low level tasks such as oven cleaning (we don’t ask our PE teachers to clean the changing rooms do we?)
- Having a school policy on the provision of ingredients and using Pupil Premium for those pupils who cannot afford to join in the lesson
- Offering longer lessons for practical work so that pupils are more often able to make things from scratch and use fresh ingredients.
In an important link between food lesson and the quality of the food served for school lunch, the D&T Association (in partnership with British Nutrition Foundation, and Eagle Services Solutions) have recently launched a School Food Champion programme. This Department for education programme puts the pupils at the centre of re-designing their school lunches to meet the new Food Standards and to produce recipes they will want to eat for lunch. We are looking for passionate food teachers to join the programme.