Food Education Review

The results are in, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. An expert group including The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Food Teachers Centre, British Nutrition Foundation and the University of Sheffield have now completed a commission to undertake a comprehensive review of food education and culture in England’s primary and secondary schools. Thanks to all of you that got involved, filled in surveys and took part.

Jamie Oliver believes that “Every kid in every school no matter their background,
deserves to learn the basics about food – where it comes from, how to cook it and how it affects their bodies. These life skills are as important as reading and writing, but they’ve been lost over the past few generations. We need to bring them back and bring up our kids to be street wise about food.”

Focusing on the curriculum, the whole school approach and behavioural change, the report highlights an alarming disparity in standards, overshadowing the success of the 2013 campaign for compulsory food education.

There’s a stark difference between schools doing a great job at delivering appropriate food education, and others struggling with a lack of time, resources and support. The report also highlights the unhealthy food environment at secondary schools which is in turn compromising pupils’ ability to make good food choices, and interestingly found that teachers, pupils and parents are all calling for a healthier school environment.

The report goes on to make four recommendations to counter these findings and ensure that children receive a better start in life:

  1. Schools should be healthy food zones
  2. More support should be given to the school workforce
  3. Improvements in food education qualifications and resources are needed
  4. Stronger reporting and evaluation needs to be in place

You can read the full report here:

Something that really struck a cord with me as a parent and a change professional was the opinion of Dr ​Caroline ​Hart ​from ​the ​University ​of ​Sheffield – she referenced the environment in schools and concerns about the ‘cake-culture’. I myself have been flabbergasted by the mixed messages around healthier lifestyles, as schools attempt to implement good practice, but unfortunately contradict themselves in their policies around unhealthy snacks, allowing treats for birthdays, and routinely supporting and enabling regular fundraising through the sale of junk food. It’s a tough one, as it’s always hard to change and move away from things which are ‘easy’.  ​

Dr Hart wrote:
“For ​many ​primary ​schools, ​a ​major ​concern ​is ​the ​prolific ​sale ​of ​cakes, ​sweets, ​cookies
and ​crisps ​as ​part ​of ​fundraising ​efforts. ​In ​many ​secondary ​schools, ​a ​key ​issue ​is ​the
lack ​of ​healthy ​food ​offers ​that ​enable ​pupils ​to ​put ​their ​food ​education ​into ​practice.
Pupils ​told ​us ​that, ​when ​sugary ​drinks, ​super-sized ​cookies ​and ​‘chip ​only’ ​options ​are
available, ​it ​made ​it ​hard ​for ​them ​to ​select ​healthier ​alternatives. ​The ​vast ​majority ​of
parents ​responding ​to ​our ​survey ​supported ​the ​reduction ​of ​unhealthy ​food ​offers ​in

We’re heading in the right direction as momentum builds and media coverage increases, but as a nation trying to overcome rising childhood obesity rates, there’s still a long way to go. I expect that big changes in government policy are on the way as a result (fingers crossed…).


Food Revolution Day ’15

Friday 15th May 2015 was a cracker. Last year was epic, this year was better.  With even more people joining in the fight for food education around the world, the message is really starting to sink in and get traction.

Planning started a while back and provided the opportunity to engage more broadly across the community. Thanks to the admirable philosophy and wonderful generosity of our friends at Whole Foods Market in Cheltenham, we managed to orchestrate a great day for the children of St. James’ Primary School, have some fun, and pass on some vital food education skills.

Whole Foods Cheltenham sponsorship

The guys at Whole Foods really outdid themselves; we had the most beautiful ingredients to play with and the children were super-impressed. We literally wouldn’t have been able to run the class without them.

Freshly baked rolls from WFM

assorted apples

Stunning hey!

So. After an early pick-up my little helper and I headed to the school and met the children. 30 11-year-olds greeted us with smiling faces and numerous (intelligent) questions and the odd “Have you met Jamie Oliver?”…

Alas we couldn’t play the cook-along video the big man recorded or even the catchy music video due to standard school restrictions on social media sites, but thankfully our thoughtful and resourceful teacher Sarah Wagstaff had made contingency plans and printed the recipe cards. Colour no less!

What’s that? Music video? … Ed Sheeran, Hugh Jackman, Professor Green, Alesha Dixon, Jamie Cullum, George The Poet, Paul McCartney … What the what what! #respect

Making the Sandwich

Did we make a mess? Yes. Did we learn anything? Yes. Did we have fun? Yes. Were the children awesome? Yes!

Highlight? Squashing!!!

Boshing the Squash-It Sandwich

We walked through the recipe in stages with each ingredient and ended with a room full of satisfied customers. It’s fair to say that everyone was rather surprised at just how tasty this little sandwich is.

My personal highlight was watching my 4-year-old daughter Winter demonstrate how to pod peas to the class. Bless.

Winter Podding Peas

Great work from Jamie’s Food Foundation on developing a recipe that was so accessible to the masses, fun to make and delicious to boot!

The Finished Product

tucking into the Squash-It Sandwich

Ella and Winterahl

The foundations are in place, now lets keep building; every day is Food Revolution Day.

Visit and get that petition signed!