During each term we are very lucky to have a cookery club for Key Stage 2 children. This is after school so please watch out for the newsletter for more details on this wonderful opportunity to create some healthy wonderful dishes!
Learning about food, how to prepare it and the principles of a healthy diet is important for every child. Every year, the NHS spends £10billion treating people with diet-related illnesses, from obesity to diabetes to heart disease. Almost 20 per cent of children are obese by the time they leave primary school, and families on lower incomes tend to be the most disadvantaged in terms of their culinary knowledge and skills.
Cooking and nutrition falls within the design and technology curriculum. The new curriculum aims to teach children how to cook, with an emphasis on savoury dishes, and how to apply the principles of healthy eating and good nutrition. It recognises that cooking is an important life skill that will help children to feed themselves and others healthy and affordable food, now and in the future, potentially halting – and even reversing – the growth of diet-related illnesses.
In Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), children will be taught:
Key Stage 2 children (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6) will learn:
The national curriculum doesn’t give specific guidance about how it should teach cooking and nutrition, so it’s up to individual schools to decide how to deliver their lessons. A number of organisations, including the Children’s Food Trust, Chefs Adopt a School and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, are helping by putting together programmes of study that schools may choose to follow.
Primary school children may learn about cooking and nutrition through activities such as:
The Children’s Food Trust recommends that children spend at least 24 hours in each Key Stage studying cooking and nutrition, with most of that time focused on practical cookery. It’s also recommended that practical lessons are delivered in groups of no more than 18 children.
Currently, only 25 per cent of primary schools have teaching kitchens, which may mean that your child’s cooking and nutrition lessons could be limited by the facilities available. However, there are plenty of ways for children to learn about food, even without extensive facilities. For example, they can practise techniques like peeling, chopping and mashing; use portable facilities like electric hotplates; or prepare food in the classroom that can then be cooked at home, such as bread dough.
The SFP expert panel also points out that the curriculum is lacking in detail about what schools should be teaching, and doesn’t specify how much time should be spent on cooking and nutrition lessons, meaning that the subject may be squeezed out in favour of more academic subjects.
Teachers have also raised concerns about health and safety, especially in Key Stage 2, where it’s less likely that classes will have a teaching assistant as well as a teacher. It’s thought that schools will rely heavily on parent volunteers to help with practical sessions.
The SFP recognises that learning about food and nutrition should be a partnership between home and school. So how can you help your child to build their practical cookery skills and knowledge at home?