A new government incentive to help to teach children about eating a healthy diet, and also teach them to cook for themselves, has been launched. The main purpose is to educated children, so that they are more likely to avoid becoming obese.
Head teachers will be able to order a recipe booklet, so that children can prepare meals at home after learning to cook them in class. In addition to the healthy recipe booklet, there is to be an extra £151 million to be invested in food technology (previously home economics lessons) in schools.
Once the infrastructure is in place, compulsory cooking lessons will be given to all 11 to 14 year old. The target date is 2011, when it will become compulsory for 11- to 14-year-olds to have food technology lessons, which will include both food nutrition, hygiene and practical cookery lessons.
Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, believes that everyone should know how to prepare a basic, nutritious meal from raw ingredients. Current attitudes around cooking often suggest that it is actually cool not to know how to cook.
However, Ed Balls is quick to remind that schools should only be part of the solution, and that ultimately parents are responsible for ensuring that their children are brought up well, which must now include feeding them healthily and teaching them how to look after themselves properly.
He also reflects on how cooking lessons were done when he was at school, say that “it will be great if young people had the chance to make healthy dishes from basic ingredients at home, not simply in the classroom – as I did when I was growing up.”
Cookery is already compulsory in primary schools, but an option part of home economics in secondary schools. There will be new investments to update 515 secondary schools with the required cooking facilities. Also, the government has allocated £750,000 to recruit and train 800 new “food technology” teachers. Head teachers will be able to order the cookbooks for their Year 7 pupils.
The healthy recipes in the booklet were provided by the public, who were asked to nominate the basic dishes every child should learn how to cook. Recipes are also available online on the Teachernet website.