Taking food education a step ahead,
so it is fit for the future
20th May 2022
The British Nutrition Foundation, supported by the All Saints Education Trust, has been working on developing education around food and nutrition that is relevant to young people across the UK and meets the needs of our culturally diverse society.
The British Nutrition Foundation organised a consensus building event focused on exploring what a future, modern food education that is relevant to young people and society, might look like and contain. With the Government’s response to the National Food Strategy due imminently and publication of the Levelling Up the UK White Paper earlier this year, there has been elevated debate around food and nutrition education, with recommendations that aim to raise the status of food education in schools, and so this consensus building event could not have been more relevant.
Full of thought-provoking presentations delivered by experts in the field of food and nutrition education, the event, attended by over 200 global registrants, provided insights into different aspects of teaching and learning. Including, looking back at 50 years of food education and setting the scene as to why change might be needed, to the health status and nutrition knowledge of teenagers, and consideration of diversity and experiences for pupils in the 21st century.
The event also launched new survey findings from pupils, aged 13-18 years, and teachers throughout the UK. It revealed that:
- Pupils rated their overall experience in food, and their teaching, as mostly ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and when asked to sum-up their learning experiences pupils described it as enjoyable, fun and interesting. However, some described it as stressful, crowded and loud.
- Teachers reflected the pupils’ current food learning experience as fun and enjoyable, but also stressful. Future expectations of the experience included being calm and valued.
- The majority of pupils enjoyed practical activities/lessons, and identified the importance of these, as well as suggesting that they wanted more and longer lessons to enable them to make a wider variety of dishes.
- Teachers and pupils agreed that recipes should be healthy and be within the context of family/everyday, tasty (pupils) and low cost (teachers). The importance of culture and diversity was important for both teachers and pupils.
- In the future, healthy and sustainable diets should feature more, as well as knowing how to ‘feed myself well’.
- Many teachers did not have or know if their schools had a Whole School Food policy, and there was little liaison with other subjects.
During the consensus building event, the interactive polls and discussions also revealed some important results, such as a majority view that all pupils should study food and nutrition until at least the age of 16, that food and nutrition teachers should be involved in curriculum co-ordination for food subject content and Whole School Food approaches across the school, and a recognition that lack of teaching time can hinder progress and curriculum opportunities.
Commenting on the event and its key findings, Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive Officer, British Nutrition Foundation said, “Through this event and survey, we at the British Nutrition Foundation were looking to understand how children and young people can be provided with the means and resources to access a food education that is modern, diverse and inclusive. One that it is fit for the future and meets the needs of pupils, their families and society. The strong recommendations that have come out of our consensus building event will help drive us towards a modern food education that serves children and young people across the UK. It was really encouraging to see that these recommendations align with the Levelling up the UK White Paper published by the Government in February 2022 which sets out the next steps in the Government’s programme to reduce inequalities across the UK.”
As a result of the consensus event, including the inter-linking presentations, attendee feedback and discussions, the following recommendations for the future of food education have been made:
- Food and nutrition education for all: Food and nutrition education should be made universally available for all children and young people from at least 5 to 16 years.
- Progress for life: Ensure that there are routes of learning post-16, which include the reintroduction of A-level food and nutrition in England and Wales.
- Teacher recruitment and training: Ensure that there are enough specialist teachers at secondary school level to provide high-quality, rigorous teaching.
- Empower primary school teachers: At primary level, ensure that food and nutrition teaching is part of initial teacher training courses and that ongoing CPD training is available, ensuring high quality experiences by all pupils.
- Unlock the subject: Tackle the life-long persistent problems that have held-back the subject, namely ingredient provision, resource allocation, curriculum time (frequency/length) and technician support.
- Respect, importance and impact: Address the value and respect for the subject, starting from the top down, i.e. policy makers, school governors and senior leadership teams. Show the importance and impact of food and nutrition education, including careers in ‘food’, to parents/carers, which can include getting families involved in learning (in and out of the classroom).
- Inclusive, diverse and modern: Ensure that teaching reflects ‘the now’ (and continues to evolve with change), taking into account cultural aspects, family life, socio-economics, health and sustainability. Food and nutrition education is for all pupils, diverse and inclusive.
- Characteristics of good education: State what a modern food and nutrition education looks like, enabling teacher trainers, schools and CPD providers to have a consistent approach for the subject.
- Expand learning experience, don’t limit: Schemes of Work/Learning should include dishes that pupils want to make, and that reflect their families/lifestyles, in the context of healthy and sustainable diets. Pupils should be given opportunities to use ingredients that they are initially familiar with, but then extended over time to broaden their learning experiences, handling, cooking and tasting a variety of ingredients.
- It’s about context: Healthy and sustainable diets needs to be the basis for food and nutrition education going forward, with learning about food from around the world, reflecting personal cultures and values, demonstrating diversity and inclusivity.
Louise Davies, Founder of the Food Teachers Centre and Chair of this consensus event commented, “The recommendations created as an outcome from the event aimed at exploring what our modern food education should look like, have been developed in a way to ensure they are supportive to schools, teachers and those involved in delivering food education. From the practical recommendations about including a variety of ingredients within cooking opportunities, through to ensuring food and nutrition is available to all children and the re-introduction of an A-Level and teacher recruitment and training, there is something for all food education providers to consider and act upon.”
The British Nutrition Foundation was happy to see that the Levelling Up White Paper reflects many of our recommendations for a future modern, diverse food and nutrition education and now eagerly await the Government’s response to the National Food Strategy. We will continue our work on developing a modern, diverse food and nutrition education and through this advocate change for the future.
* Further information around A modern paradigm for food education, including the full report from the consensus building event can be found HERE.
Notes to editors
For more information, interviews and images please contact the British Nutrition Foundation Press Office on firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7557 7930
The pupil and teacher surveys were open from 18 Aug to 28 Oct 2021 and 18 Aug to 24 Sept 2021, respectively, and were completed by 405 pupils and 229 teachers. The consensus building event was held on 2 October 2021, with 208 registrants, and the full event report – A modern paradigm for food education – was published in March 2022.
About the British Nutrition Foundation
Connecting people, food and science for better nutrition and healthier lives
The British Nutrition Foundation, a registered charity, delivers impartial, authoritative and evidence-based information on food and nutrition. Its core purpose is translating evidence-based nutrition science in engaging and actionable ways, working with an extensive network of contacts across academia, health care, education, communication and the food chain. A core strength of the Foundation is its governance structure (described in the Articles of Association), which comprises a Board of Trustees, Advisory Committee, Scientific Committee, Editorial Advisory Board, Education Working Groups and a Nominations Committee, on which serve senior/experienced individuals from many walks of life. The composition is deliberately weighted towards the scientific ‘academic’ community, based in universities and research institutes, and those from education, finance, media, communications and HR backgrounds.
The British Nutrition Foundation’s funding comes from: membership subscriptions; donations and project grants from food producers and manufacturers, retailers and food service companies; contracts with government departments; conferences, publications and training; overseas projects; funding from grant providing bodies, trusts and other charities. The British Nutrition Foundation is not a lobbying organisation nor does it endorse any products or engage in food advertising campaigns. More details about the British Nutrition Foundation’s work, funding and governance can be found at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/our-work/who-we-are/.
About Food – a fact of life
Food – a fact of life is the British Nutrition Foundation’s education programme which provides free resources for teaching young people aged 3-16 years about where food comes from, cooking and healthy eating. Visit the website (https://www.foodafactoflife.org.uk/), sign up to our Education News email updates and follow @Foodafactoflife on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest resources available.
The consensus building event formed part of an ongoing project around a modern paradigm for food education, including:
- What do pupils want? – Understanding and responding to pupil voice – This was explored with a survey with pupils, aged 13-18 years, to find out about their food and cooking experiences, as well as better understand what they would have liked to have been taught.
- What’s modern food teaching? – Understanding the profession and society - The consensus building event with experts in the field of food and nutrition education debated on the concepts of a future, modern food education.
- What’s cooking? – Ensuring recipe diversity – Developing a range of recipes which reflect modern food teaching and cultural inclusion, ensuring that these can be used to support the curriculum, food skill development and progression.
- What future paradigm? – Bringing teachers on the journey - Teacher training around developing inclusive Schemes of Work/Learning, introducing global cuisines and diverse ingredients and healthy, sustainable diets.
Further information about this project can be found here.
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