Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Keep cooking on the curriculum

Our Life North West have been doing something fantastic detailed work with all sorts of communities that are more likely to suffer from poor health. One of the barriers to good health identified by several of their focus groups is lack of cooking skills. If you are not able to prepare fresh food then you are more likely to rely on processed ready meals or take-aways which are generally more unhealthy and less nutritious than freshly prepared food.

Hardly rocket science. You would think that at a society committed to improving the health of the nation would ensure that ALL kids would get basic cooking lessons to ensure they had the skills to prepare a healthy diet.

After years of campaigning we eventually won a commitment from the government to ensure that all year 9 students would receive 24 hours of practical, hands on cookery which focused on preparing family meals. Schools were given three years to prepare and money to spend on equipping classrooms and training teachers.(Incidentally these lessons will be focusing on real cooking skills not the 'design a pizza box' type lesson so beloved of the food industry)

Mr Gove,the current Secretary of State for Education has other ideas. He is keen to slim down the national curriculum and reduce the element of compulsion for schools. if he gets his way then cookery will no longer be compulsory. Secondary schools are going to be under the most tremendous pressure to improve their Ebacc ratings so many will claw back the time that would be spent on cookery lessons to spend time on subjects that improve their league table ratings.

It is vital that we keep compulsory cookery lessons. Please take 2 minutes to send a message to the government now to ensure that our voice is heard. Click here to take part in the consultation exercise that is currently going on about the school curriculum.

If we can generate a huge response to this then we stand a chance of winning.

We need the health professionals who are currently looking at obesity reduction strategies to put pressure on education to retain cooking lessons. How joined up is it too have Department of Health looking at behaviour change strategies to reduce obesity at exactly the same time that the Department of Education wants to ditch responsibility for life skills?

Can you help us spread this campaign? All suggestions gratefully received!