While curricula around the UK sets out what must be taught in regard to food (including healthy eating, cooking and where food comes from), there is little in the way of specific guidance on teaching food in primary schools. Statements related to food teaching in UK curricula are often minimal and broad, leaving teachers without any detailed guidance about what to teach or how. The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) believed that there was a need to provide guidance and direction and highlight key characteristics of good practice that could be shared to support teachers. With this in mind, we set about putting together the Characteristics of good practice in teaching food and nutrition education (primary) document.
We began by identifying key themes (i.e. characteristics), such as whole school approach, hygiene and safety and running practical lessons. In total, nine characteristics of good practice were identified:
- Developing professional competence
- Taking a whole school approach
- Teaching the curriculum
- Running practical food lessons
- Establishing good food hygiene and safety practices
- Developing food skills
- Exploring where food comes from
- Applying healthy eating
- Making informed choices
Work continued with primary school practitioners and initial teacher training providers to detail what good practice within each characteristic would look like, resulting in a series of statements to exemplify each one. In order to help teachers realise the statements, ‘Putting the characteristics into practice’ sections were added to bring it to life. These created practical checklists for teachers to work through. In addition, to encourage a whole school approach, information was added for senior management, curriculum lead/co-coordinator and classroom teachers to help illustrate the roles of individuals in school for a holistic approach. A short case study for each characteristic was written to help showcase it within a school context. The case studies were provided by practicing UK classroom teachers, Head teachers and others delivering food lessons to pupils aged 5-11 years.
To help teachers engage with the Characteristics, the document has also been transformed into an online course. The course is based on the content of the Characteristics document, but includes a series of reflection questions to help teachers consider their practice, what happens in their school and where improvements can be made. Links to further resources such as food skills videos, recipes and activity ideas have been added throughout the course, providing the opportunity for teachers to explore a suit of materials to enhance their teaching and learning as they go through. To help teachers collect their thoughts and actions as they complete the course and an audit sheet has been created for each characteristic. On successful completion of the end of course assessment, a downloadable certificate is available - useful evidence for PPD records.
The Characteristics document and course are aimed those that teach, or are training to teach, in primary schools throughout the UK. They can be used by practising primary school teachers to audit their own teaching and to plan and implement personal and professional development goals. We know that food training is often minimal during initial teacher training, so the characteristic document is also a valuable tool for newly qualified teachers looking to better understand the subject and how it should be delivered. The Characteristics can also be used to support trainee teachers who can consider these during their teaching placements in different schools and as they begin their careers as qualified teachers.
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the All Saints Educational Trust for the production of the characteristics document and online course.
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