16 January 2017
Food education kits for primary schools
To evaluate the impact of educational kits aimed at primary school children from the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) – ‘Food – a fact of life’ (FFL) teaching programme, supporting the delivery of workable solutions to the current obesity issue.
What we did
As part of AB Sugar’s ongoing work on Making Sense of Sugar, in 2014/15 the BNF was provided with an unrestricted educational grant to support the evaluation of primary school teachers delivering food and nutrition lessons. Obesity remains a major issue among British primary schoolchildren, with the latest National Child Measurement Programme reporting that 22% of Reception children (aged 4–5 years) and 33% of Year Six children (aged 10–11 years) are either overweight or obese (HSCIC 2015).
Although the BNF’s education website, Food – a fact of life, contains a vast selection of kits for primary teachers, it was put forward that a prescribed off-the-shelf package of kits may be more desirable for teachers and better supports their requirements. This led to the creation of the FFL teaching kits which were developed by a former primary school teacher and a registered dietitian and reviewed by an external evaluator, a senior lecturer in education at the University of East London.
At AB Sugar, sustainability is a key focus and this pilot supports the creation of thriving, healthy communities. Promoting the health and wellbeing of pupils and studies within schools and colleges has the potential to improve education outcomes and overall health and wellbeing.
The FFL kits and website enables teachers to follow the curriculum based on materials that align with the latest UK Government’s dietary guidelines on what constitutes a balanced diet.
Of the 25 classes that took part in the pilot (including four Special Education Needs classes), all teachers rated the kits highly, scoring an average of four out of five in all areas – suitability, clarity, ease, engagement, enjoyment and usability. One teacher in the pilot commented: “Enjoyed teaching the lessons and pupils responded very well, with lots of questions and discussion - this meant we sometimes ran out of time for all the activities!”
Two out of three teachers had not had any food training in the past two years. The majority of those who had food training, had been on food safety courses, rather than receiving curriculum/nutrition updates. Overall, teachers on the pilot improved their competence and confidence in teaching healthy eating, food and farming and cooking.
The impact on pupils was that using the teaching kits and the website resource available it improved their knowledge of health and wellbeing with food.
The BNF’s recommendation is that using the teaching kits will help develop both teacher and pupil confidence and competence with food. Overall, further awareness is needed of the kits available – both the teaching kits and the FFL website.
It is also recommended that teachers need further support with food and nutrition training as part of their Initial Teacher Training, along with regular food and nutrition continuing professional development (CPD) in their career. This supports the Foundation’s work with government to develop guidelines for teachers in primary schools. More also needs to be undertaken to engage parent/carers with initiatives, such as the teaching kits, as this type of activity can play a key component for health behaviour change.
Along with the two research papers by 2020health, we are committed to playing our part in helping find real, workable solutions to tackling the obesity crisis and ensuring a greater understanding of what constitutes a healthy balanced diet.
For more information:
BNF – The British Nutrition Foundation is a registered charity providing evidence-based information on food and nutrition.
A detailed copy of the evaluation case study can be found in the BNF’s Nutrition Bulletin:
Making Sense of Sugar – a website funded and developed by AB Sugar, and approved by third party experts to create tips and advice to help people make informed diet and lifestyle choices based on robust science.
2020health were provided with two unrestricted education grants. The grants resulted in two pieces of research – “Careless Eating Costs Lives” and “Fat Chance? Exploring the evidence on who is obese?”