We are absolutely delighted that our former Managing Director, Roy Ballam, has been recognised for his dedication to supporting food and nutrition education across the UK by the Trustees of the Design and Technology Association who have awarded him the Excellence Award for Outstanding Contribution to Design and Technology 2022.
Roy dedicated his award to the British Nutrition Foundation and to all the enthusiastic teachers throughout the UK and wider who are making a difference to the health and wellbeing of children and young people.
Below Frances Meek, Education Services Manager, British Nutrition Foundation shares an excerpt from Roy’s nomination
After 26 years working for the British Nutrition Foundation, Roy left the charity in December 2021 for a new life abroad. By the time Roy left, he was Managing Director and Head of Education having started his career at the Foundation as an Education Officer. Whilst Roy is no longer working for the Foundation, he is still very much involved in food education through his work as a consultant and with the Food Teachers Centre where he is supporting Food and Nutrition teachers develop into the school leaders of the future.
I have known Roy for many years from when I was a Food and Nutrition teacher myself using Food – a fact of life resources on a daily basis in my classroom and also contributing to British Nutrition Foundation projects such as Licence to Cook and Teach Food Technology, to working at the Foundation with Roy as my line manager and mentor.
Roy’s initial career was as a Home Economics teacher before joining the British Nutrition Foundation in 1995. Throughout his career, Roy has demonstrated his passion for nutrition education and has been instrumental in driving the work and building the reputation of the Foundation to become the UK’s leading support body for school food education.
A crucial part of this has been his pivotal role in the development of the Food a Fact of Life education programme which has just celebrated its 30th anniversary. Food – a fact of life started as a partnership with government (MAFF), to ensure that schools had access to high-quality, evidenced-based and school-appropriate resources (all pre-internet of course). From the very start the focus was on ensuring that there was a strong, rigorous and robust approach to food and nutrition education and this drive has never stopped. While the way in which support and learning has changed over the decades, with the increasing use of technology, the spirit and values of the programme remain unchanged. The education programme was originally created for primary teachers and was very much ‘paper-based’, since then it has grown into a complete programme providing resources for teachers of pupils from 3-5 years to 14-16 years across the UK. There is now a comprehensive free-to-access website housing over 2,000 resources and 300 plus recipes for use in schools. There is also advice for managing practical food and nutrition lessons and support for teachers’ personal and professional development, and guidance for a whole school approach to food. All of this, supported by a wide-ranging offer of training for teachers across all phases of their careers. All of this has been made possible through Roy’s drive, vision and ambition that Food – a fact of life should be a ‘one-stop-shop’ to provide rigorous, evidence-based information for teachers that they know they can trust and will save them time and money – all of which is well documented to be a barrier to food and nutrition education in schools.
As an example of Food – a fact of life’s success, during 2021 over 500,000 teachers downloaded over 1.5m resources.
Throughout his career, Roy has been proactive in seeking out opportunities to support teachers. From the development and review of the Core competences for children and young people aged 5-16 years (A framework of skills and knowledge around food, diet and physical activity), and Frameworks for food teaching in primary and secondary schools (developed with Public Health England and the Department for Education), to Characteristics of good practice guides for teaching food and nutrition in primary and secondary schools and to pupils with additional needs, Roy has lead these from the front with commitment, determination and foresight into what schools, teachers and pupils need.
Roy was also instrumental in developing a resource for teachers on the new national healthy eating model, The Eatwell Guide, for which Roy also ran webinars to aid understanding.
With our partners in Food – a fact of life, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Roy lead the development of a set of voluntary guidelines which can be adopted as part of a good practice approach by those that produce and use education resources for schools about food throughout the UK. These guidelines aim to ensure that children and young people use up-to-date, evidence-based and high-quality resources to support their learning about food and have been downloaded 3,396 times to date.
Roy has also been involved in curriculum development, being an adviser on the content of the GCSE Food and Preparation and also part of the reform group for the AQA Food Preparation and Nutrition GCSE specification. Roy was also a member of the CCEA Home Economics: Food and Nutrition advisory board.
When the new National Curriculum was introduced in 2014, Roy knew that teachers in England would need support with Schemes of Work and lesson planning for Design and Technology: Cooking and Nutrition. To this end, he led the British Nutrition Foundation education team in writing free Schemes of Work, with worksheets, activities, lesson plans and recipes, for years 7, 8 and 9 and ran training events to support teachers through the transition period. These Schemes of Work have recently been updated and have been downloaded 22,076 times since August 2020.
During his time at the Foundation, Roy also oversaw the development of a free nutritional analysis programme for schools (used over 1,444,625 times since June 2014) and a free personal and professional development programme for food and nutrition teachers (2015-2018), through which over 2,000 teachers increased in confidence and competence.
2021 saw the creation of a new area on the Food – a fact of life website to support teachers of pupils with additional needs. Resources have been developed to provide a framework and structure for teaching around the key themes of Healthy eating, Cooking and Where food comes from. There is also a suite of resources to support the development of skills for independent living. These resources have been downloaded over 12,000 times to date and teachers have been further supported through a series of free online webinars.
Teacher training has always been an important aspect of the Foundation’s support for teachers, with Roy very much at the helm of this. In the first instance, FFL training consisted of face-to-face conferences and practical workshops. In the past few years, there has been a greater shift from regional face-to-face training to more online and virtual training, enabling many more teachers to attend from the comfort of their school desk or sitting room. In 2019, online courses were launched, and to date nearly 4,000 teachers have registered for Food – a fact of life food science courses.
In March 2020, FFL training evolved again due to the first national lockdown. The training programme was quickly reviewed by Roy and the team and instead of the usual face-to-face training we were all used to, everything was moved on-line and virtual. This did not deter teachers, in fact quite the opposite, and, between April 2020 and the end of March 2021, 1,876 teachers registered for Food – a fact of life training, which included virtual regional conferences, practical food skills workshops and webinars. The teacher training programme continues to go from strength to strength with over 2,000 teachers registering for training during 2021.
Roy has also been a consistent advocate for food education across the UK and has worked with governments, Awarding Organisations and other stakeholders to ensure that pupils get the rigorous and high-quality education they deserve. Roy was a lead partner in the Food Nutrition Network which provided evidence to the National Food Strategy, published in 2021, and also worked with the Food Teachers Centre and the Jamie Oliver Foundation to research and write a report on the Food Learning Landscape in England.
Before leaving the British Nutrition Foundation, Roy initiated work around developing a new modern, diverse food and nutrition education that meets the needs of young people, their families/carers and society. This work is being continued and has led to 10 recommendations for a curriculum that is fit for the future, new global cuisine recipes exploring diversity and inclusion, and online training for teachers.
Roy has also been a strong voice in support of the reintroduction of an A-Level in ‘Food’ in England to enable progression from GCSE to further education and careers from farm to fork, as recommended by the National Food Strategy.
Roy has been a prolific writer on food and nutrition education in schools with a number of papers and articles published in Nutrition Bulletin, the peer-view Journal of the British Nutrition Foundation.
Roy has been supported throughout his career by a small but dedicated education team at the British Nutrition Foundation who have benefitted from his leadership, foresight and creativity.
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