Food growing and cooking could get boost on national curriculum

Food growing and nutritional cooking classes could form part of the national curriculum from 2014, but the changes might be scrapped following criticism from industry

Following years of community-led action and celebrity-driven campaigns, food growing and cookery could soon become a compulsory part of a child’s education when they are added to the national curriculum in 2014.

Arguments for the addition of food growing were first considered following the release of the report Food Growing in Schools, by the charity Garden Organic in conjunction with over 20 partners including schools, retailers, voluntary and community organisations and government departments.

The report, published in March 2012, presented evidence for the benefits of encouraging and aiding children in growing their own fruit and vegetables, including increased ability to achieve, increased wellbeing and physical health, and increased life skills and employability.

The final version of the national curriculum is due to be published in August 2013, and is set to be implemented in schools from September 2014.

A draft of the new design and technology curriculum specified that where possible, it would ensure that all pupils are taught practical knowledge and skills “to cultivate plants for practical purposes, such as for food or for decorative displays.”

In addition, the government included cooking in the draft curriculum, advising that pupils should: “understand food and nutrition and, where possible, have opportunities to learn to cook.”

However, during a period of consultation on the plans, which ended on 16 April, criticism by the inventor and businessman Sir James Dyson and the Confederation of British Industry led to the syllabus being reviewed. Writing in the Times, Sir James said: “This new curriculum will not inspire the invention and engineers Britain so desperately needs.”

Asked whether food growing would remain on the new curriculum, the Department for Education (DfE) said it could not give any further details while the curriculum is in review. “We have consulted on the curriculum and will respond in due course,” a DfE spokesperson said.

The original planned changes to the curriculum were part The Independent School Food Plan, which aims to put together a clear vision of good food in schools.

* This article was updated on 2 May to reflect the fact that the planned syllabus is now being reviewed