Food and nutrition teaching throughout the UK


The national curriculum for England is taught in all local authority-maintained schools. The curriculum support Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 (primary and secondary education, 5-14 years) (some subjects have details for Key Stage 4, 14-16 years).

Food is mainly taught through:

  • Design and technology: Cooking and nutrition;
  • Science;
  • Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE).

Physical education also plays an important part in pupil health and wellbeing.

For further information on the curriculum in England, go to: 

Northern Ireland

In primary schools (5-11 years), food is taught mainly through health education. It supports Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in The World Around Us (Science and Technology, Geography) and Personal Development and Mutual Understanding.

During secondary school education (11-14 years), food is taught through three main areas:

  • Learning for life at work (Home Economics);
  • Science and technology (Science);
  • Learning for life and work (Personal Development).

For further information on the curriculum in Northern Ireland, go to:


The curriculum in Scotland has recently been reviewed and published in 2009. From early years to secondary schools (3-16), food is taught progressively through:

  • Sciences;
  • Technologies;
  • Health and wellbeing.

For further information on the curriculum in Scotland, go to:


The curriculum in Wales ensures that children in early years, primary school and secondary school have experiences learning about food. The curriculum comprises Early years, with progression onto National Curriculum (Key Stages 2 and 3, 8-14 years).

The three areas of the National Curriculum where food is mainly featured are:

  • Design and Technology: food;
  • Science;
  • Personal and social education.

For further information on the curriculum in Wales, go to: 


Core Competences for children and young people aged 5-16 years

In 2007, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched Core Food Competences for children aged 5-16 years, developed in consultation with the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF). The competences set out a progressive framework of skills and knowledge which comprise essential building blocks around the themes of diet and health, consumer awareness, cooking and food safety for children and young people. These competences have been widely used, as they provided consistency and a focal point. Uses included an audit tool for teachers mapping out lessons, a guide for developers creating resources for schools and a framework to support curricular change and examination specifications.

BNF, along with Public Health England (PHE), FSA Northern Ireland, FSA Scotland and the Welsh Government, initiated a review of the original framework to ensure that it is up-to-date and reflects key areas of priority for children and young people in relation to their education, life skills and health.

The Core Competences:

  • represent core skills and knowledge around the themes of Diet (food and drink), Consumer Awareness, Cooking (Food Preparation and Handling skills), Food Safety and Active Lifestyles (physical activity) and provide an essential benchmark;
  • are progressive and cumulative from one age phase to the next;
  • could be met at home, school or through other activities;
  • show essential knowledge and capability – they are neither a curriculum nor an examination specification;
  • reflect UK-wide practice;
  • aim to help children and young people to develop the skills and knowledge to make and implement healthy food choices.

The Core Competences can be used as:

  • an audit tool to help plan lessons;
  • support curriculum and qualification development;
  • a guide for those developing resources for children and young people.

For further information on the Core competences, go to:

To support the use of Core competences, pupil facing resources have been devised. To view and download these resources, go to: 


Last reviewed June 2015. Next review due May 2016.