The Department for Education is currently carrying out a consultation on its proposed reforms to GCSE and A level subject content for teaching from 2016. Among the various proposed changes is a proposal for a new Cooking and Nutrition GCSE, which is described in the following terms:
"This new qualification is not solely based on the previous food technology, catering or home economics content, but draws upon and expands the best aspects of all three, while also including more of the scientific knowledge underpinning the preparation and cooking of food. The purpose of the qualification is to equip students with an in depth knowledge of cooking and nutrition, as well as the practical ability to apply this knowledge when cooking. The core knowledge will enable students to choose ingredients to cook with, taking account of nutritional needs and through a detailed knowledge of cooking processes, prepare a wide range of recipes."
As an organisation we have responded to the consultation on behalf of our members and our response is published here. Individuals are also able to respond - details of how to do so, including the proposed subject content, are available on the DfE's website. You are welcome to use our response as a template for your own.
We are in agreement with the suggestion to rationalise the number of qualifications by creating one specific Cooking & Nutrition GCSE. We also support the extraction of this subject from the Design & Technology suite, thereby providing greater focus on the importance of this as a standalone qualification.
We applaud the inclusion of skill acquisition and practical application within the aims and learning outcomes. We acknowledge that this qualification is an important opportunity to develop vital life skills and encourage healthy diets.
Our specific interest lies within Section B of the recommended content. We are pleased to see inclusion of food provenance which is an area often overlooked. Should this GCSE be adopted, we would be keen to work with the awarding bodies to offer supporting materials and resources.
We are also glad to see the inclusion of wider issues such as the impact of food security on the environment. To ensure that food provenance is adequately covered in depth within the subject content we would recommend the inclusion of quality assurance in relation to where and how foods are grown reared or caught and the secondary stages of processing and production at scale; and secondly that the impact of food security on the environment includes consideration of fair trade, food miles and food poverty.
Among the skills listed in section 7, we believe that pupils should also consider seasonality and the sustainability of their recipes, alongside consumer choice and lifestyle. These wider impacts are important because future food specialists, many of whom we hope will have studied this qualification, will have an important role in addressing the global challenge of feeding the world’s massively increasing population.
Finally, we feel the title of the GCSE is too narrow and needs to include the word ”Food”. Although much of the qualification’s emphasis is about cooking, the aims and learning outcomes should reflect a broader picture of food as indicated in the points above.