Students will be encouraged to master the "vital life skills" of how to prepare and cook healthy meals under plans for a new GCSE to be unveiled today.
The ‘cooking and nutrition’ qualification, to be taught in schools from September 2016, will include food science alongside practical cooking techniques.
It follows cooking and food education becoming “an entitlement” from this month for all pupils up to the age of 14. But the new GCSE has provoked fears among design and technology teachers that a major aspect of their subject is being marginalised.
The Design and Technology Association (Data) fears it could lead to schools taking food out of design and technology (D&T) lessons, even though it is included under the new national curriculum.
Nick Gibb, minister for school reform, said: “At the heart of any food qualification should be a focus on developing practical cookery skills and a strong understanding of nutrition.
“That’s why we’ve created the cooking and nutrition GCSE so that rather than designing food packaging, students will now learn the essentials of food science, nutrition and how to cook healthily.”
There are currently a number of food-related GCSEs - design and technology: food technology; home economics; and hospitality and catering.
But Ofqual, the exams regulator has been consulting this summer on how to prevent overlap in content between similar subjects, and the government wants the new GCSE to “build on the best of” the existing ones.
The new GCSE will also require pupils to learn about where food comes from and prepare them for further food-related study or apprenticeships.
Henry Dimbleby, the co-founder of the Leon fast food chain who co-wrote the School Food Plan, said: “This qualification is another big step forward for food education in this country following the introduction of cooking as compulsory in the curriculum this term for all children up to the age of 14.
“It is a serious qualification that will be another step towards creating a healthier and happier society.”
But Richard Green, Data chief executive, said: “The development of separate cooking and nutrition subject criteria is not the association’s preferred option as food is an integral part of D&T in key stages 1-3.
“Schools could misinterpret the [new GCSE] criteria as signalling a complete separation of food from D&T.”
Last year the association had to fight to get a draft of the new D&T national curriculum revised, claiming it was taking the subject back to the 1950s by introducing sock-darning and flower arranging at the expense of vital 21st century technological skills.
Draft content for the new cooking and nutrition GCSE and others in D&T; drama; citizenship studies; and AS and A levels in drama and theatre, will be published by the government for consultation today.