Friday, 4 January 2013

Are Children In Need Of Being Taught To Cook More In Schools?

Following this week’s recent discussions in the news on the lovely Ruth Bond (chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes) talking about schools having a duty to teach children to cook in preparation for their adult life, it got a new passion and project of mine racing through my mind.

A few months ago I was in fact having this very same conversation with a work colleague, who’s son was off to school that day to learn how to cook.... wait for it.... a baked potato.
He was baking his potato and bringing it home to his dad for dinner that night.

Now, as lovely as this sounds, bless his heart, it’s not what I remember learning to make or bake when I was at school, and at nearly 30, that wasn’t too many moons ago, so it’s scary that children lately are just being taught how to bung a potato in the oven, as there is so much more they can and should learn, I personally believe - Argue with me should you wish!

I am more than aware that it will be down to the school’s curriculum, budgets and staffing as to what and how they teach in their cooking sessions, but I think it’s important that kids are learning a little more, especially with the food culture that we are now living in.

Recently, I have started offering baking lessons in my students’ homes, to help them to get to grips with their own (or my) equipment and their own kitchen environments and it’s worked wonders in helping their confidence in baking simple baked goods that they didn’t believe they could make until I showed them how. This is great news, but what worries me is that these grown adults are scared to bake, some with their own children and they are wanting to learn now, so that they can teach their children to cook and bake should they wish. 
This is just fantastic and I am glad to be able to help, if even slightly in doing this in their own relaxed & familiar home environment.

Photo by Debbie Wallwork Photography

Many parents I know also want to be able to bake their own birthday and celebration cakes and treats for their children, but feel scared or not confident enough to do this and again, it’s so simple, you sometimes just need a reassuring hand to show you the basics to get you started. This is something else that I believe this year’s baking lessons with The Secluded Tea Party are going to be able to help with. That is a very exciting thought for me personally, as it’s going to be making memorable birthday celebrations all over the country!

If the schools are not going to be able to help kids to learn the basics, I believe that their parents should be able to if they want to and this is where my baking lessons may well help to do just this.
I am aware that it’s not just cooking skills that kids are going off to Uni and beyond without, it’s basic domestic skills too sometimes, from what I have been told recently, again by a friend, their son had to call her up to find out how to change the bed sheets late one night. This is where I love the fact that my friend, William Hanson comes in handy with his Modern Manners School, not only teaching people modern manner and etiquette, but also essential life and domestic skills needed in everyday life.

My own parents, although they taught us these skills and they prepared meals for us, even if we did moan and groan at their casseroles and steak & kidney pies, they cooked for us. I remember the sweet pink piggy faced cupcakes my mum used to make with me and my sister and the butterfly cakes we made allowing us to lick the bowl afterwards. These memories will stay with me forever and they have helped me to want to bake again later in my life, queue the start of The Secluded Tea Party ; )

I'm not saying that all schools and parents are lacking on baking and cooking skills, far from it, I think the love of food in the UK has had a huge impact on our skills as a nation with that thanks to papers, magazines, books and TV shows such as "The Great British Bake Off" contributing towards our love of this subject. 
In fact, a lovely lady I know in Cambridgeshire is a fantastic cake maker and her young daughters (8 and 10 years of age) are avid followers of BBC's "Masterchef" and often cook their parents dinner including homemade Chicken Kiev and Lamb Tagine. I'm more than impressed and am tempted to kidnap them for my own home hehe ; )  

Ruth Bond also mentioned in the news that we are throwing out over 15 million tonnes of food waste every year in the UK and again, this is very scary indeed. Especially when there are organisations such as Food Cycle in the UK that will take food waste and turn it into meals for people who will benefit from it. It’s also, on the other side of that, a great way to offer your cooking skills as a volunteer and can be a great way to practice this or gain tips from other cooks or volunteers at your local Food Cycle Hub.

This topic is obviously worrying (Maybe worrying is a strong word here, but...) more people than just myself, so I am glad to be starting out on a new baking venture to help this lack of confidence and teaching, if even marginally.

Photo by Liquid Photo

What are your kids learning to bake/cook in their schools?

Could you use a baking lesson with The Secluded Tea Party, 
or know somebody who might like to book one? 

Why not leave a comment below or 
Email me at for a chat 
& more information on our new baking lessons in 
your own home. 

Miss Sue Flay


  1. Great post Jo, and I thoroughly agree - learning basic life skills should feature highly on the school curriculum, especially as many children sadly aren't given any opportunity to learn at home.

    On the food waste matter - thanks for the FoodCycle shout out! It's so great to be involved with something that feels like you are making a real difference.

    Another worrying thing on the food waste front however is how much we throw away in our homes. In the UK more food is thrown out in our homes than from supermarkets (7.2 million tonnes a year) and most of this could have been avoided. The reason for this is a lack of basic skills in planning and preparing food. There's loads of information on this at the Love Food Hate Waste website (

    Good luck Jo in your quest to make the world a more capable, foodie loving place. An exceptionally worthwhile cause indeed.

    Zoe x

    1. Hey Zoe, do you think there is something that homes can do to make sure their food waste goes to organisations such as yours, as well as businesses donating the food?... Just a thought out loud here. x

    2. Potentially there could be, although I'm not sure it would be worth it because the quantities would be in relatively small amounts (it's only when you scale the problem up over households and time that you see the figures stack up).

      It’s much easier to collect and make use of supermarket waste, and there is a lot more of that that could be utilised – when you think that we only collect from one small supermarket on one day of the week.

      I think the key with household food waste is teaching people and behaviour change. As we turn in to a nation of foodie’s, I like to think we are getting there, all be it slow progress :o)

  2. I think with our love of our food and home baking growing and growing, it's going to be a great way to teach our kids in future years. Just think of the recipes that will get handed down too, that's a very exciting thought too : )