Skip to main content Skip to footer


9th May 2024

Future A-level (food) roundtable discussion

In February 2024, a roundtable was convened by the British Nutrition Foundation and the Food Teachers Centre, to discuss the current status and possible future of post-16 qualifications related to food education in England. 


The intended outcomes of the roundtable were to: 

  • Ascertain a clear picture of the current provision and gaps in Level 3 qualifications provision in England (16-18 years) compared to Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland; 
  • Explore knowledge and skills required for further study and employment in the food sector; 
  • Outline possible content for new A-Level subject criteria and assessment structures, accommodating the breadth of the food sector and qualification/career pathways. Ask for support for a post roundtable working group, who will seek input and draft detailed subject criteria. 
  • Assess the implementation challenges, such promotion of new courses, support and resourcing, including staff capacity. Short term and long term. 


A range of organisations and experts were invited to attend the roundtable discussion, including government, awarding organisations, teachers, non-government organisations (NGOs) and industry. 


There were five recommendations from the Roundtable: 


1. Don’t overlook the importance of including 'food' in post-16 development and discussions. This has a vital contribution in ensuring that the UK economy flourishes (the food sector is one of our biggest) and that we have the necessary skills and expertise to create innovative food production systems and effective health and well-being solutions. These needs should be addressed when considering changes to qualifications, such as ABS and T Levels. Establish a diverse group comprising stakeholders from higher education, industry, NGOs, Awarding Organisations, and teachers to ensure comprehensive representation and support throughout the process. Based on research and feedback, the ideal outcome would be food specific post-16 qualifications.


2. Ensure clear routes of progression and accessibility to 'food' education from Key Stage 3 to post-16. Show clear progression from Key Stage 3 D&T: Cooking and Nutrition to post-16 qualifications, which considers GCSE subject content. This enables pupils to study food, giving them opportunity of access, and offers a clear offer to parents/carers. In addition to post-16 qualifications, the Core food competences for children and young people (a government produced 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) should be updated for 16–18-year-olds, allow all students the chance to learn key food life skills.


3. Develop new food courses that address the gap in post-16 education. There is a consensus that the post-16 gap would be better served with the re-establishment of ‘food’ A-Level routes or equivalent via the ABS. Establish multiple 'food' courses or incorporate modular units with diverse content to accommodate various interests and career paths within the food sector. Acknowledge the importance of context setting via food courses, enabling students to apply knowledge in a real-world way and helps showcase roles and careers in ‘food’, thus encouraging progression onto higher education.


4. Strengthen teaching capacity in food education through targeted recruitment and retention efforts for subject-specific teachers. Enhance the subject's status to attract teachers and ensure schools have adequate resources to support the delivery of 'food' courses, including teaching materials, rooms and facilities, and CPD budgets. Post-16 courses may lead to higher use of food rooms, although some non-practical aspects could be timetabled elsewhere in school. Explore the potential for groups of schools/academies to have shared online teaching for different aspects of courses, making more efficient use of teaching staff, for theoretical aspects.


5. Sustain ongoing discussions and collaboration among stakeholders from education, higher education, industry, and NGOs to review post-16 education landscapes and advance food specific subject content development. Maintain dialogue with government bodies to inform policy decisions and support continuous improvement in food education.

Future A-level roundtable discussion

A short version of the report from the roundtable meeting can be found here.

If you would like to find out more about food education in schools across the UK or receive a full copy of the report, including the Appendices, please contact Frances Meek at  

About the British Nutrition Foundation

Connecting people, food and science for better nutrition and healthier lives


The British Nutrition Foundation is a registered charity that provides impartial, evidence-based information about food and nutrition. We translate nutrition science in engaging and actionable ways, working extensively with people in academia, health care, education, communications and the food system, for public benefit.


We safeguard our independence through robust governance, with an independent Board supported by an Advisory Committee and a Scientific Committee, both of which draw upon a board range of experts from academia, government, industry, and public life. Our governance is weighted towards the scientific community, universities, and research institutes, and those from education, finance, media, communications, and HR backgrounds.


Funding for the British Nutrition Foundation is from membership subscriptions; donations; project grants from food producers and manufacturers, retailers and food service companies; conferences; publications, training, trusts, and foundations. The British Nutrition Foundation is not a lobbying organisation, nor does it endorse any products or engage in food advertising campaigns.


More details about the British Nutrition Foundation’s work, funding and governance can be found here.