1 August 2017

Frances Meek
Senior Education Officer

As an ex secondary teacher who was in charge of a food department, I am delighted to be involved with a personal and professional development programme that has increased food teacher’s confidence and competence inn delivering quality food lessons.

Following the publication of the School Food Plan and the introduction of compulsory food education in the English national curriculum in 2014 there was more emphasis on food in schools. Great, we all thought! However, experience and anecdotal evidence led the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) to realise that a significant number of secondary food teachers no longer hold a food qualification or did not follow what might be regarded as the traditional routes into teaching.  With this changing landscape, how could head teachers and other colleagues ensure that food was taught by teachers with the right level of knowledge and skills? How could teachers themselves know what was required?

In order to find out what an accomplished food teacher should know and be able to do, BNF worked with Public Health England and a number of other stakeholders to develop and publish the Food teaching in secondary schools: A framework of knowledge and skills (2015). The framework (supported by the Department for Education) is a guide to the knowledge and skills expected of secondary school food teachers. It outlines the knowledge and skills that would be developed over time – resulting in exemplary food teaching.

So now we had a framework, what should we do with it? In order to make sure that the framework did not grow whiskers on the bookshelf, BNF, in collaboration with the Food Teachers Centre (FTC), developed the Food Teacher Professional Portfolio programme (FTPP); a three year personal and professional development programme for secondary food teachers. Over 1,900 teachers have registered for the programme since its launch in late 2015 - a fantastic number! Interestingly, registrations support the original anecdotal evidence regarding non-specialist teachers as over a third of participants are either non-specialists or new to teaching.

The ambition of the programme is to further enhance professional standards of food teaching involving curriculum planning; classroom management; practical cooking skills; food commodities; nutrition and health; hygiene and safety and consumer awareness. Teacher feedback has shown that this ambition is bearing fruit with 81% of respondents to a recent survey stating that they had improved their teaching due to information received as part of the programme.

How has this been achieved? Registered teachers receive support from experienced teaching professionals through monthly email newsletters, monthly webinars and face to face events.  As well as training and support, each teacher who registers and completes an online audit of their knowledge and skills receives a printed portfolio/organiser.  The aim of which is to help plan, organise and evidence their personal and professional development.  By the end of the second year (July 2017), 82% of registered teachers have been sent a portfolio.

Our ambition in the third year is to focus on Initial Teacher Training supporting new teachers into the profession.

If you are a secondary school food teacher, and would like to increase your confidence and competence to teach food, why not find out more about the FTPP programme and see how BNF and the FTC can support you on your journey to becoming an exemplary, accomplished teacher?  www.foodteacher.org.uk

The Food Teachers Professional Portfolio is supported by the All Saints Educational Trust.