home cooking skills

Story by Monisha Saldanha

Jamie Oliver has teamed up with Edexcel, the UK’s largest awarding body offering academic and vocational qualifications, to create a new and inspirational cooking course which will be available for all UK secondary schools and further education colleges later this year. The Home Cooking Skills course has been developed over the last year by Jamie and his team alongside Edexcel. It represents Jamie Oliver’s first major step back into schools since his ‘Jamie’s School Dinners’ TV series changed the face of school catering in 2005.

Teacher Support Materials will accompany the course, and have been designed with teacher-ease in mind. They are user-friendly enough for those teachers without a home economics qualification to be able to teach, whilst at the same time providing exciting content for more experienced teachers and those who already have a good knowledge of food and cooking. There will be step-by-step photography for every recipe on the Home Cooking Skills course as well as internet video support, plus hints and tips to help teachers master basic cooking skills before teaching their classes and have access to useful teaching aids.

Home Cooking Skills aims to give every young person the basic skills to be able to feed themselves and their families in a healthy, cost-effective way and is available in two levels. Level 1 of the course will focus on giving all young people the skills to prepare delicious and nutritious home-cooked food from fresh ingredients as well as understanding the value of passing on cooking knowledge. Level 2 will develop the students’ ability to plan and prepare a series of nutritious home-cooked meals for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner, and help them understand how to cook economically.

The courses will also cover other essential basics including how to equip a kitchen and how to shop cleverly to save money. Additional topics include fridge management and food rotation, how to write a shopping list, and how to read and understand confusing food labels.

The idea originated out of a conversation between Jamie and, Marjorie Scardino, CEO of Pearson (of which Edexcel is a part). Jamie Oliver said: “Six years ago, the very first thing that I asked for in my manifesto that I took to Downing Street was for schools to make cooking and life skills compulsory for all kids so that they learn about food and good eating habits while they’re young. Six years on, the government have set aside time for mandatory cooking lessons for 11-14 year olds, but a lot of teachers and head-teachers are still wondering how they’re going to fill those hours.

“I got bored of waiting for someone to come up with a proper plan so I decided to do it myself. When I got talking to Marjorie, she shared my vision and she was so enthusiastic and excited that I knew we could create something special. As everyone knows, I am passionate in my belief that cooking should be taught in all schools and I believe that great teachers have a very important role to play in empowering young people with vital knowledge.

“I wanted a course that would inspire kids but also inspire teachers; something that would be both easy and fun to teach. I also wanted to be able to ensure that those hours were packed with absolutely crucial learning, so I started developing a course for key stage 3 to teach everything you need to know. Visiting people’s homes during the Ministry of Food series I met people who were scared to even turn on an oven, let alone cook. We have a generation of young adults now who live off ready-meals and takeaways, and we wonder why so many kids and young people are becoming obese. Home cooking from fresh is one of the greatest pieces of knowledge anyone can have. It saves people money and it saves lives. What greater gift could any teacher give their class?”

Ziggy Liaquat, Managing Director, Edexcel said: “I have great admiration for Jamie and the way he has championed the issues he’s passionate about. Edexcel brings to that passion and drive a reputation for quality and reliability. You could argue that together we make the perfect recipe for success. The course has been developed to inspire both students and teachers using a variety of resources and the latest technology. Jamie’s vision of equipping children and adults with the skill and ability to cook healthy and nutritious meals sits seamlessly with our desire to ensure everyone is able to achieve their full potential.”

The Home Cooking Skills course will be ready for schools and colleges to begin teaching in September.

About the Author: Monisha Saldanha works on Jamie's online team.

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