Cooking to become compulsory in schools

Children with vegetables

Under new Government proposals to cut down on obesity in young people, all students between the ages of seven and 14 are to be taught cookery in England as of September next year.

The change in curriculum follows recommendations from Leon restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, who were asked by education secretary Michael Gove to examine what students were eating and how it could be improved.

Others backing this step include Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Prue Leith, chef and MFM supporter Tom Aikens, and the founder of the baby food company Ella’s Kitchen, Paul Lindley. They are just a few of the leaders in the food industry, health, charity and media who are promoting a campaign called Averting A Recipe For Disaster, which urges the Government to improve nutrition for children and avoid dramatically increased NHS costs in the future.

According to statistics from 2011, England has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe, with more than 60% of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year olds classed as overweight or obese.

“We have been adamant that knowing how to cook should be an entitlement for every child in school. And we’ve been equally determined that the curriculum ensures kids can cook a wholesome range of savory main meals that they will enjoy, and which will improve their lives and those of their children in the future,” said John Vincent.

Until now, primary schools have had to give basic lessons about food preparation and hygiene, while in secondary schools cookery has been a design and technology option with no requirement for students to learn about nutrition. From September 2014 pupils in primary schools will focus on where food comes from, healthy eating and learn basic cooking techniques. Students in secondary schools will learn how to cook a number of dishes and will be taught about nutrition and having a balanced diet.

These new requirements go hand in hand with Meat Free Monday which encourages schools to put a strong emphasis on cooking and growing projects and aims to get children excited about eating fruit and vegetables.

To see one of Meat Free Monday’s very own school cookery workshops, check out this video!

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