Piloted in 23 Pathfinder schools across Scotland, the Framework has engaged with 3,200 children and 290 teachers. Its main aim is to transform their food culture by integrating good food knowledge and activity throughout the curriculum, enhancing the provision of good food in the dining hall, and taking good food messages out into the wider community.
This new approach to food not only shows it as a product, but also engages with how it’s intertwined throughout our lives. It affects our health and wellbeing, contributes heavily to our economy, and is at the centre of many a career. In order to ensure relevance, appeal and accessibility to schools, the Framework was created through close consultations with educational practitioners, catering professionals, and food educators.
Working in partnership with local producers, authority catering services, and authority education departments, food-related activities have been developed to encourage schools to explore how food adds value to their culture, community, curriculum and catering.
Pupil activities include: visiting farms to find out how food is made, growing food at school, designing and creating their own recipes, assisting school cooks in the kitchen and investigating food waste to explore solutions of minimising or recycling it, as well as visiting local food businesses to find out more about food-related careers.
Feedback from educators using the Framework included:
“I was running a class about our favourite foods and I had one child who said their favourite was carrot cake. He then asked me later if we could plant carrots in the vegetable garden to use for the carrot cake.”
“Food education offers real possibilities for inter-disciplinary learning. We’re very keen to work with our catering staff to improve the ‘ethos’ of the dining room experience. We’re also very keen on the community-related aspects of this initiative and empowering parents to consider healthier food choices.”
The Education Framework has been designed to complement the Food for Life Catering Mark in schools. Displaying the Catering Mark signifies that schools are using fresh, sustainable and ethical ingredients, free from trans-fats and harmful additives. After only a few years of the Catering Mark being in operation, 40% of Scottish local authority schools now carry it.
An event is being held in Stirling on the 29th September in celebration of the programme’s success. Representative teachers and pupils from the Pathfinder schools have been invited, as have strategic stakeholders from partner organisations. Speeches from Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, and Frank Strang, Deputy Director, Food, Drink & Rural Communities kick the celebrations off. Shirley Spear, Chair of the Scottish Food Commission and owner of Three Chimneys restaurant on Skye will also be speaking. Hands-on, ‘soil to plate’ food-themed activities will entertain guests, while schools will be given an opportunity to showcase the projects they’ve been working on and share their experiences.
On the future of Food for Life Scotland, Angela Mitchell, Food for Life Scotland Manager, said: “This event to celebrate the success of the of the Food for Life Scotland Education Framework so far, ties in perfectly with the Year of Food & Drink’s celebratory month. We’re delighted that many of our Pathfinder schools have agreed to become as ‘Ambassadors’ in their local areas, and will effectively be hubs for sharing good practice and helping other schools on their good food journeys.
"Our team will be continuing their provision of introductory sessions and on-going support for new Food for Life Scotland schools in the coming months and will work with our partners to deliver professional development events for educational practitioners and catering staff.”
Soil Association Scotland is Scotland’s leading charity working for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. Their innovative work with farmers aims to prepare agricultural businesses for the impacts, opportunities and risks that both climate and economic change bring. Food for Life Scotland has and will continue to work to transform food culture and food systems across the country; so we can eat food that is good for us, our communities and the planet.
• For more information on the Food for Life Scotland programme visit http://www.soilassociation.