Why Cooking in Schools

The decline in people’s ability to cook over the past generation has been broadcast far and wide.

The British now eat more "ready meals" than the rest of Europe combined and it is no exaggeration to say that cooking is becoming a forgotten skill for most people under the age of 30.

Thanks to the tireless campaigning work of the Focus on Food campaign The Focus on Food campaign; a short history of the Focus on Food CampaignChildren's Food Campaign and many others, changes to the national curriculum took place in September 2014.

For the first time ever, practical cookery is compulsory in maintained schools for children up to year 9. The Department of Education’s report recommended specifically that students in Key Stages 1 to 3 should "learn about food and, where possible, plan and prepare healthy, wholesome dishes".  It adds that pupils should have practical knowledge in horticulture "to cultivate plants ...for food". 

Campaigners have lobbied hard for this and our cause was taken up by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, the DfE's school food review team.  SFM was able to show the review team excellent cooking and growing projects in London schools to demonstrate the value of food education.  This was a great start to the School Food Plan and we are delighted that we have been able to play our part. 

At SFM we are honoured to work with a small but dedicated group of chefs who give their time and ingredients for free to deliver a Cooking or Kitchen Garden Ideas session to our member schools.  Please visit our membership section if your school would like to learn more.

We believe that every child should be given the opportunity to learn cooking skills at school.

  • Being able to cook means you have more control over what you are putting into your body. Britain is only second to America when it comes to an overweight population, but research shows Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Wolfson J and Bleich N. 2014 that people who cook at home are consuming a healthier diet than those who don't.

  • Children who cook Expanding Children’s Food Experiences: The Impact of a School-Based Kitchen Garden Program: University of Melbourne October 2013 are more likely to report that they like cooking “a lot” as well as showing increased willingness to try new foods. Learning how to cook at school also shows a transfer of benefits in the home, with children being more ready to help in the kitchen.

  • Children who attend Food For Life schools Evaluation of Food for Life: Pupil survey in local commission areas: Food for Life’s impact on primary school children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables. Jones M et al. 2015  with well-developed food education programmes (cooking and growing) are twice as likely to eat five a day and a third less likely to eat no fruit or vegetables than pupils in comparison schools. They also eat around a third more of fruit and vegetables than pupils in comparison schools, and significantly more fruit and vegetables at home.  

  • Let's Get Cooking Evaluation of the Let's Get Cooking programme: Final Report 2012 (a network of over 5,000 school-based family cooking clubs) reports that nearly 60% of people taking part say they eat a healthier diet after being taught how to cook balanced meals. Over 9 out of 10 (92%) LGC club participants also report regularly using their new cooking skills at home.

  • Eating together  Is Frequency of Shared Family Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents? Hammons A. et al. 2011 is one of the best ways for families to connect. Research has shown that children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than 3 family meals together