Guest blog by Katharine Tate, The Food Teacher. Katharine has worked as a teacher and education consultant internationally in primary and secondary schools for over 20 years. She’s inspiring children to find their inner chef and make smarter food choices as part of The Young Chef Award.
Ensuring our children are healthy, mindful and equipped for their busy lifestyles can be a constant challenge but with so many success stories and a wave of change there is a great deal to share and celebrate.
While stories of increasing childhood obesity, tooth decay and even rickets often take centre stage in the media they also serve to illustrate the need to inspire children and families to cook and ensure children understand food, where it comes from and most importantly how it affects our bodies. If we put food education at the heart of both our schools and our homes we can truly begin to feed our children’s stomachs and minds. As Jamie Oliver stated, “You don’t die young because you didn’t do your geography homework. Kids die young because they don’t know how to feed themselves.”
As a qualified teacher, registered nutritional therapist and parent, launching The Food Teacher™ in 2014 was an opportunity to make a difference and develop food education and nutrition for youngsters. Aside from two award- winning books for schools our greatest success to date has been our Young Chef Award. This was launched in 2017 in Fleetwood, Lancashire and was funded by the local NHS who recognised the impact such an award could have on the long-term health and well being of the community. Due to its success the award is now being made available to all UK and Irish primary schools.
The award is for Year 5 or 6 pupils (ages 9-11) written by teachers for teachers, which covers the Key Stage 2 curriculum for ‘Cooking and Nutrition’, develops pupil’s chef skills, encourages food awareness and healthy eating. Teachers are equipped with all the resources required for delivery of the awards including teaching videos, lesson plans, letters to parents and printed pupil journals and certificates.
The award is a 6-week half term challenge that requires 2 hours of teaching time each week and focuses on pupil’s designing and creating a ‘Meal for their Hero’. The meal includes a soup, main course, dessert and drink within a £10 budget. Children learn chef skills, seasonality, cooking methods, food hygiene and safety, where food comes from and the importance of food for health. The teaching also incorporates other curriculum areas such as English, Science, Maths, Geography, ICT and Art and Design. The outcomes to date have been outstanding and pupils readily rise to the challenge, which would see them passing GCSE Food Technology with flying colours.
4,000 children across the UK and Ireland take part in the awards annually. As the school term is drawing to a close, perhaps consider getting involved for September. To find out more about the Young Chef Award and for Cook at Home recipes to share with parents, visit their website.