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Nutrition: Health Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 141125, tabled on 16 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure all children are taught about healthy diets and how to cook nutritious food in school.

Answered on

24 March 2022

Cooking and nutrition are a discrete strand of the national curriculum for design and technology. This was introduced as part of the 2014 design and technology curriculum and is compulsory for key stages 1 to 3. The curriculum aims to teach children how to cook, with an emphasis on savoury dishes, and how to apply the principles of healthy eating and nutrition. It recognises that cooking is an important life skill that will help children to feed themselves, and others, healthy and affordable food.

A food preparation and nutrition GCSE was introduced in September 2016. It requires pupils to understand and apply the principles of food science, nutrition, and healthy eating when preparing and cooking food. The first exams in this new qualification were taken in summer 2018.

Healthy eating is also covered in health education, as part of the relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) curriculum. The RSHE statutory guidance states that by the end of primary school, pupils should know what constitutes a healthy diet (including understanding calories and other nutritional content), the principles of planning and preparing a range of healthy meals, the characteristics of a poor diet, and risks associated with unhealthy eating, (for example, obesity and tooth decay) and other behaviours (for example, the impact of alcohol on diet or health).

The importance of a healthy diet is also included in the science curriculum. The primary and secondary science curriculum require pupils in maintained schools to be taught about nutrition, including what constitutes a healthy diet, the impact of diet on the way our bodies work and the consequences of an imbalanced diet. By the end of secondary school, pupils should know how to maintain healthy eating and the links between a poor diet and health risks.

Furthermore, the Levelling Up White Paper confirmed the department’s focus on school food quality and food education, including a commitment to launch a £5 million pilot to launch a school cooking revolution. This includes enriching the curriculum and providing bursaries for teacher training and leadership.