|Food Policy, Devolution and Wales|
Page 2 of 8The National Curriculum - practical food education
This is a policy area where the NAfW had the power to change legislation, but this has been strongly resisted, for example, by civil servants and some male local authority education advisers. Food teachers at a WFA public conference held in October 1999 alerted us to this issue. The following Monday we established a small working group with food teachers and produced precise recommendations to amend the National Curriculum Orders to mandate practical cookery within Design and Technology. This and other attempts to make change were strongly resisted between 1999 and 2007, despite warnings that unless action was taken quickly we would lose capacity to train future teachers due to the ageing profile of existing food teachers. We were supported by representation to the then Minister by the Association of Directors of Education in Wales. All of this was to no avail. Instead of taking a fresh look at how we implement an effective system, even supportive Assembly Members merely asked "what should we leave out of the National Curriculum in order to include practical cookery". No one appears to have been able to make a connection between practical food education and the Assembly statutory Sustainable Development scheme.
Necessary modest changes were finally introduced in 2008, but are we too late to make this effective? After much delay, is it now possible that we have insufficient specialist food teachers to properly deliver practical cookery at Key Stage 2 and that the supply of trained food teacher specialists requires attention? Are classrooms now properly equipped to deliver practical cookery after many years of neglect? Does Estyn employ a specialist food inspector, as is the case in Scotland, to cascade good practice between schools?
In diligently following an English and industry driven Design and Technology curriculum since 1989, what consideration did various official advisory bodies, the WJEC and others give to the public health concerns of growing child and young person obesity, and the serious consequences for their quality of life and future NHS expenditure? All of which have now come to pass. We observe that even with the lack of resources in the 1930s, they probably had a better system of food education than we have today and this matter should have been addressed in Wales many years ago with powers available well before 1997.
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