By Louise T Davies, Founder Food Teachers Centre
Great excitement ripples through the teachers and Associates of the Food Teachers Centre. We cannot quite believe it! We are about to celebrate food teaching becoming compulsory in September 2014. Oh! how long awaited and the agony of the journey. I was part of this process began in 2007 during the Ed Balls administration, only to be suspended by Michael Gove who began a new curriculum review. Luckily he sent the School Food Plan to rescue us. To be honest, the battle to be recognised started way before 2007, my first article was published in 1983 called ‘Home economics is more than just cooking for girls’.
But we are there now. September sees huge support for food education for all, and most importantly practical, fun and good food loving education.
On a personal note, this is a triumph in my career, and I will be raising a glass at the start of term for all the years of campaigning as the days of feeling part of the ‘cinderella curriculum’ are over. I hope my grandmother who was in service as a cook in a grand house at 16 years old, would be proud. I was lucky as I had a mother and grandmother who were both wonderful cooks, despite their busy working lives. I experienced food as it should be – harvested, freshly cooked, made with love and care, tasting delicious and often shared as a family having dinner together. I know I will never be able to rival my grandma’s pastry, some of her recipes were legendary. I can still smell those warm scones, as I walked around the corner from school to her house. It was a blessing that she lived so close. My love of food was cemented with a Guide Leader who was the catering lecturer at the FE college, when camp food over an open fire was a highlight, no burnt sausages for us and plenty of midnight feasts. Home Economics lessons at school were not really enjoyable for me until I got to A Level, and worked my way through every advanced skill enough to breeze through a Masterchef technical skills test.
This is for today’s young people, many not as lucky as I was growing up, and who now need to have good food education because cooking at home is so limited. We have to give the next generation back a love of food.
From 2014 all schools that follow the national curriculum will have to teach food as part of D&T including a new ‘cooking and nutrition’ in KS1, 2, and 3 D&T programme of study. The background to this has been to both acknowledge the importance of food alongside other materials used for designing and making, but also the desire to address the obesity crisis. Our food teachers lead the way in addressing young people’s understanding of nutrition, and are centrally placed to support behaviour change and offer practical ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The government has focused on the whole school plan that is central to addressing school food (in the curriculum and food service). This is formalised in the School Food Plan. Chapter 2 outlines compulsory cooking and equipping schools.
Enjoy the celebration.