Practical Cooking and the Primary National Curriculum

In primary schools across the country, children are learning about what constitutes a sensible and varied diet. Many schools are participating in healthy eating initiatives and encourage nutritious snacks and lunches. As children move up to high school they begin to partake in practical cooking lessons. What many primary schools fail to realise however, is that practical cookery is a compulsory part of the key stage 2 syllabus.

The extract below is from page 183, Design and Technology, Cooking and Nutrition, Key Stage 2 (years 3, 4, 5 & 6).
  1. understand and apply the principles of a healthy and varied diet
  2. prepare and cook a variety of predominantly savoury dishes using a range of cooking techniques
  3. understand seasonality and know where and how a variety of ingredients are grown, reared, caught and processed
Part one of this section is often widely covered. It is part two which is often overlooked. There are however consequences to overlooking it as this part of the curriculum relates to personal development, behaviour and welfare, an area which OFSTED inspect.The OFSTED inspection report states that “Inspectors will make a judgement on the personal development, behaviour and welfare of children and learners by evaluating the extent to which the provision is successfully promoting and supporting children and other learners”
The report goes on to list specific areas that are open to inspection and these include “knowledge of how to keep themselves healthy, both emotionally and physically, including through exercising and healthy eating”
Since this section of the curriculum is dealing specifically with ways to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle it is assumed that all three points included are considered important in order to help children develop in this area.
It’s understandable that practical cooking is on the curriculum from Key Stage two as the benefits it offers are huge.
Practical cooking offers a set of life skills. Being able to plan, prepare and cook a healthy meal helps children as they grow. Possessing the knowledge to cook for yourself has long term health benefits which will ensure you live a healthier life style.
Learning how to safely peel, chop, fry and boil can ensure children are better equipped to fend for themselves in later life. Not only will they be able to eat more healthily but they will also be able to prepare food more safely, reducing the risk of cooking accidents.
Practical cooking also teaches lessons outside of this. Children will learn maths skills such as counting, fractions, measuring and shapes. They also learn problem solving skills as well as science skills. Understanding how food changes while cooking is vital within this but is often where schools can struggle.
Many schools don’t possess the practical equipment to cook with children, and with very limited space due to increased class sizes, this alone can compromise the safety of each child.
This is where Mexa Thermal can help. We have passion to see kids enjoy cooking and learn these vital life skills in a safe and secure environment.
We design and manufacture mobile cook stations which are well suited to an education environment. Our mobile cook station features an oven, hob, refrigerator, preparation table and a hand-wash, all in one unit. As the units are a bespoke build we can also offer different combinations of the above features.
Every unit is mobile and fitted with lockable castors, meaning it can be stored in a kitchen or cupboard and easily moved into a classroom or hall when needed. With a depth of only 625mm it can also fit through any standard doorway. In terms of power the units are designed to run from a standard UK plug sockets. Safety is paramount and that is reflected in the design. All cook stations are stainless steel, so they are both hard wearing and hygienic. The hob is induction, so it stays cool to the touch, and the oven door has a slide and hide design meaning it retracts under the oven, minimising the danger of trip hazards and burns.
Learning to cook is such a vital skill and we hope that our cook stations can make it easier for teachers and more fun for children. No more seeing raw bread dough disappear into a secluded oven to be returned to the children miraculously baked. With the mobile kitchen kids can keep an eye on the changes to their food as it cooks. This whole culinary experience adds to the wonder and appreciation that a child encounters as they cook and prepare real life food.
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