Licence to Cook: the death knell for food technology?

2008-07-29T11:48:14Z (GMT) by Marion Rutland
The current debate regarding the rising incidence of obesity in the UK is of concern to the general public and many government agencies. The long term effect will impact on the whole population and the future of our children. This paper discusses the Licence to Cook programme introduced in September 2007 as the government’s response of an ‘entitlement to cook’ for all pupils. Essentially, it requires that all pupils learn basic cooking skills through dedicated lessons in food preparation techniques, diet and nutrition, hygiene and safety and wise food shopping. This paper considers the implications of the introduction of the programme on schools and the potential impact on the current food technology curriculum within design and technology. Initially, in Part 1 the paper briefly describes the background to the Licence to Cook programme and how it was introduced during 2007/8. It outlines the intended aims and the teaching resources produced for the programme in Year 1. Part 2 of the paper considers the relationship of the programme to food technology and recent development in design and technology curriculum requirements. A mapping exercise is used to highlight areas where the programme addressed curriculum requirements and gaps where potential problems could arise. Findings for the evaluation of Year 1 of the programme and the critique suggest that there are potential problems related to curriculum time, resources, progression across the age phases and compliance with the design and technology requirements. Part 3 draws an analogy between the survival of a subject in the school curriculum with the survival of a species within an ecological niche in the natural world. In Part 4 an alternative approach is suggested where links are made with other curriculum areas such as Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) (wellbeing) and science in order to establish a different niche for the Licence to Cook programme. This would require a combined approach where teachers plan and work as team and are led by a food technology specialist. This would ensure that the ‘entitlement to cook’ for all pupils is achieved but not at the expense of good quality work in food technology and its relationship with design and technology.