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Food technology is in poor taste

I read Peter Wilby's article "Cookery lessons are a recipe for disaster" (TES, November 17) with growing dismay until I read the very telling paragraph citing food technology as the main culprit: "overweighted with theory and written work".

I have to agree. Students designing and modifying dishes ad nauseam until they and their families are "sick" of the dish they have chosen in the first place is not the way to go. It may explain why many schools have seen the light and are changing to real cookery courses such as "catering" or "hospitality and catering", offered at GCSE level by the Welsh exam board WJEC.

Students get to deal with real food, learn to cook to a standard that would be acceptable to the industry and get to enjoy the results. What a shame that so many schools gave up their cookery rooms without much of a fight in the late 1980s when the Government decided that design and technology was the real deal and stopped training home economics teachers.

We are now reaping the results: about a million children who are going to be obese (not just overweight) by 2010 and students with few practical food skills entering an industry that needs more skilled people because increasing numbers of us eat out or have take-aways at least three times a week.

I for one welcome the move to make school cookery lessons at least an option for pupils at key stage 4. Cooking is a skill. Like other skills, it needs to be learnt and then practised.

Well done, Prue Leith, and everyone else out there who is campaigning to reintroduce cookery to our schools. And well done to all those teachers who, like me, have realised that catering is a great option for students.

Judy Gardiner

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