- Mr Alan Kelly
"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."
François de la Rochefoucauld
Food is an essential necessity, a part of everyone’s daily life. We see the ability to understand nutrition and prepare food with confidence and competency in the kitchen as essential life skills. This knowledge of food and nutrition will not only greatly impact the life of each of our students, but go on to underline the health of future generations as our students become adults and pass on to their children some of the food preparation principles they have learnt.
At Hartford Church of England High School, our aim in the delivery of this exciting subject is to teach students all about food in its widest sense. Not only how to prepare it, but also why we need it; the impact that certain foods and eating practices can have on our long term health; where food comes from and how it is produced as well as the function or ‘job’ different ingredients perform in cooking.
By the end of their food journey with us, all students will have gained a good level of practical and theoretical food preparation competency and confidence which will put them in a good position for either Higher Education pursuit in this subject area, or a self-motivated journey of food discovery that will carry them throughout their lives.
At KS3, students begin the course by learning about food safety, focusing on the importance of personal hygiene and hazards in a kitchen environment, before being introduced to the Eatwell Guide, which underpins the government guidelines that set out the national principles for healthy eating. Working in conjunction with their growing theoretical knowledge, students are given the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the principles they are learning, through practical application. By means of a variety of savoury and sweet dishes, students develop competency in the use of a range of hand held equipment and appliances, whilst following a recipe, as they learn to blend an assortment of ingredients to produce a variety of dishes. Student progress from ‘basic preparation dishes’ to ones that require the use of larger kitchen equipment such as gas and electric stoves/ovens.
As students move through KS3, their understanding of food will grow. They will learn about the energy values provided by the three main macronutrients, which will help them to make informed food choices. This idea of helping students to make informed choices is carried into Year 9, where students are opened to the idea of understanding where the food they consume actually comes from through the topic of food provenance. This opens up a level of philosophical thinking encouraging the students to explore the moral, ecological and ethical dilemmas around food choices and the impact those choices may have on local economies - and even the wider environment.
At KS4, students who choose to study Food Preparation and Nutrition as a GCSE subject will develop an understanding of theoretical knowledge surrounding the food industry alongside practical and investigation skills. In addition to the theory component, students will be given two separate briefs which will count as their Non-Examination Assessments (NEA). Part of this is a food investigation where they will research and test the chemical and functional properties of ingredients by conducting fair tests and evaluating and justifying data to construct a conclusion.
Stepping into the Food room is like stepping into a giant kitchen, but with extra tables and chairs. Students are immediately aware that this is a room built for practical activity. With one third of lessons being practical, it is not long before students hear the words ‘hands washed, aprons on’, signalling the start of another busy hour.
Practical lessons are both busy and exciting as each student is set the challenging task of completing a dish; preparing, cooking and washing up all equipment. To enable students to work confidently and independently to achieve this goal, all practicals are fully supported by both written and visual demonstrations. This modelling stage allows the students to watch from home how a dish is made, and even practise before the day of the practical. This preparation step in their learning increases both their confidence, enjoyment and the quality of the end product they make. This teaching approach also helps us achieve another of our core objectives, which is to get students cooking at home. The theory and knowledge that underpins food preparation and nutrition is a key part of the delivery of this subject. This is why we always start our lessons with retrieval practices and continuously question to check on students’ knowledge and understanding.
In keeping with the idea of instilling in students a passion for cooking, we also offer an afterschool baking club, enabling students to develop further their love for the subject.
The effectiveness of curriculum implementation is measured by student progress; progress means knowing, remembering and producing more and is the direct result of excellent learning.
To track progress, we follow a three layered assessment structure.
High Stake Testing
High quality summative assessments (twice or three times a year) interleave knowledge and skills to support students in developing long-term memory. Stand-alone lessons ensure that students reflect and respond to teacher feedback.
Mid Stake Testing
Typically purposeful practice tasks completed independently in lessons at least twice per half-term. These tasks are used to identify learning gaps prior to high stake testing. Students receive personalised written feedback to which they respond in lessons.
Low Stake Testing
To embed knowledge in long-term memory, every lesson starts with students quizzed on prior knowledge (Do Now Tasks). Student performance is then used effectively by teachers to identify misconceptions and plan accordingly to narrow knowledge gaps.