Current classroom practice in the teaching of food technology: is it fit for purpose in the 21st Century?

Owen-Jackson, Gwyneth and Rutland, Marion (2012). Current classroom practice in the teaching of food technology: is it fit for purpose in the 21st Century? In: PATT26 - Technology Education in the 21st Century, 26-30 Jun 2012, Stockholm, Sweden.



This paper builds on a research project exploring what secondary school pupils in England should learn in a modern food technology curriculum. The early stages of the research investigated the views of a range of professionals interested in teaching food technology and suggested a framework for a modern food technology curriculum, which would include:
• Designing and making food products;
• Underpinned by an understanding of the science of food, cooking and nutrition;
• Incorporating an exploration of both existing and new and emerging food technologies;
• In the context of sustainable development of food supplies locally, nationally and globally;
• Including an appreciation of the roles of the consumer, the food industry and government agencies in influencing, monitoring, regulating and developing the food we eat. (Rutland, 2009, p5).

The next stages of the project explored the views of a number of stakeholders of the framework. These included initial teacher educators, teachers, providers of professional development courses for design and technology teachers, higher education lecturers, examining bodies concerned with the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) food technology courses for pupils aged 16 years and the General Certificate of Education (GCE) for pupils aged 18 years and researchers working for the food industry.

This paper presents the findings of an analysis of a small sample of Key Stage 3 (pupils aged 11-14 years) English secondary schools’ food technology schemes of work (SoW), against the suggested food technology framework. The framework was elaborated to give more details of the potential content and used to critique the schemes of work based on current practice in the classroom.

The key findings were that to ensure a modern technologically challenging food technology curriculum fit for the 21st Century, Key Stage 3 pupils need a broader and more challenging curriculum. It should teach pupils a wider range of appropriate designing strategies aimed at making design decisions other than aesthetic, such conceptual, technical, constructional or marketing. There should be more attention given to progression and continuity from the primary Key Stage 2 (children aged 7-11 years) in the products the pupils design and make and the scientific and nutritional knowledge and understanding that underpins their work. The pupils should learn about new and existing food technologies, issues related to food sources and sustainability and gain more understanding of themselves as consumers and the role of the food industry and government agencies in their lives.

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