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in the curriculum
Teaching about food – Introduction

Whilst food does not appear as a individual subject in its own right in either the Primary or Secondary national curriculum, there are many opportunities throughout the curriculum for teaching children about issues related to food and nutrition. All children must work with food as part of the Design and Technology (D&T) curriculum in primary schools. They learn food preparation and handling skills, food hygiene, analysing existing products and designing and making their own food products. (DfES national curriculum 2000)

The importance of a balanced diet for health is covered in Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and the Science curriculum. Topics such as where food comes, how it is grown and cultural aspects of food can be covered in a range of subjects including D&T, Geography, Science, History and PSHE.

All Primary school children must be given the opportunity to learn some basic practical cooking skills but to what extent is up to the individual school. In 1999 the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) designed schemes of work for schools which relate to each curriculum subject and each year group. Schools are under no compulsion to follow these schemes but many schools do. They do show how and what children can be taught to be in line with curriculum requirements, give a clear plan for progression in food and nutrition understanding and set expectations for teachers. Food related schemes of work for the Primary school D&T curriculum include projects such as Eat More Fruit and Vegetables (Y1), understanding the balanced plate and, designing and making healthy sandwiches (Y3), bread and biscuits (Y5).

In Secondary schools Food technology is not statutory though most schools offer this to all pupils and it is a popular GCSE. Over 100,000 candidates take it each year. Over 60% of lessons are practical (OFSTED).
Food related schemes of work for the Secondary D&T curriculum include projects such as “Soups and Salads” reinforcing 5 a day messages (Y7), snacks (Y7), layered desserts (Y8), pasta production(Y8), specialist diets (reinforcing nutritional needs)(Y9), exploring ingredients for a ready-prepared meal(Y8), and designing a bread product to encourage young people to eat healthily(Y9). The emphasis is on understanding and applying the nutritional and other properties of food as a material, safe use of tools and equipment, hygienic practices and sensory evaluation.

Food across the curriculum

This resource provides an overview of food education across science, design & technology and geography at Key Stages 1-3. The table sets out how programmes of study relate to teaching food and also includes some relevant schemes of work.

Download table in PDF format (please note this document should be printed in A3)

Food and Nutrition related competences 5-19 year olds

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) food and nutrition related competences are aimed at 5-7, 7-11, 11-14 and 14-19 year olds to assist teachers in planning schemes of work. The competencies are headed under 5 themed strands:

• Diet and health
• Socio-economic aspects
• Food production and processing
• Food preparation skills
• Food safety and hygiene

The competences are available for download from the BNF website

For 14 – 16 year olds, there is the similar Food Standards Agency ‘Getting to Grips with Grub’ competences - the knowledge and skills that young people need follow a healthy diet:

• Diet and heath
• Consumer awareness
• Food preparation and handling skills
• Food hygiene and safety
The competencies can be downloaded from the FSA website

D&T Scheme of work

The progression map available in appendix 4 of the D&T scheme of work provides details of learning outcomes for food technology across years 7-9. It should help teachers understand what to teach at Key Stage 3, the Teacher’s Guide is available on the schemes of work website.






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