Cooking lessons made compulsory

Cooking lessons made compulsory to combat obesity

Cookery lessons will be reintroduced to secondary schools in a bid to combat Britain’s obesity crisis.

Pupils aged 11-14 will learn how to cook traditional recipes from Britain and around the world – including shepherd’s pie, fruit crumbles, bolognese sauce and curry – to arm them with the necessary skills to eat healthily. From 2011, children in state secondary schools will learn to cook a variety of dishes, including a ‘top eight’, officials said.

Classes would focus on simple, healthy recipes using fresh fruit and vegetable, said the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and £2.5 million will be spent on providing free ingredients for cash-poor families, it was revealed.

But the plans have come too late, say headteachers, who warn that in the last 15 years many schools have been refurbished without catering for cookery rooms and facilities. They also face a shortage of specialist cookery teachers.

John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘Just six months ago, ministers promised heads greater flexibility in the curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds. Now they have fallen at the first fence, creating another entitlement and more compulsion for this age group.

‘The Government should never have downgraded practical cookery 20 years ago. In the intervening years, schools have been built or refurbished without practical cookery rooms.

From September, every 11 to 14-year-old in the 85 per cent of schools offering food technology classes will be taught practical cookery.

They will be expected to spend at least one hour a week cooking for one term at some point over the three-year period.

The remaining 15 per cent of secondaries will be expected to teach the compulsory classes by 2011, although it is not clear which lessons will be axed to make way for the new entitlement.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said: ‘Simple cooking is a fundamental skill that every young person should master – it is at the heart of tackling obesity and will enable future generations to understand food, diet and nutrition, and put together healthy meals for their entire lives.’

Along with practical cookery lessons, students will learn about diet and nurtirion, hygiene and safety, and food shopping on a budget.

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