Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Parents urged to 'teach' cookery

new cook book
The government has given pupils aged 11 a free cookbook

Parents must take more responsibility for teaching their children how to prepare meals from scratch, the Children's Secretary Ed Balls has said.

The onus to pass on cookery skills did not only rest with teachers, he said.

Detailing a 3.3m package to recruit 750 cookery teaching assistants and boost existing teachers' skills, Mr Balls said obesity must be reduced.

From 2011, cookery lessons will be compulsory in England's secondary schools for children aged 11 to 14.

Mr Balls said 2.1m would be allocated over the next two years to recruit and train 750 specialist higher-level teaching assistants to help run cookery classes.

And 1.2m would be made available for a new continuous professional development programme to train 400 teachers to teach practical cooking classes.


Last year, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) issued a free recipe book for use by children at home.

The onus to pass on cooking skills should not just fall on teachers
Children's Secretary Ed Balls

Since the cookbook - Real Meals, Simple Cooking Made Easy - was published in September, 350,000 copies have been distributed to 11-year-olds.

The cookbook has recipes for dishes such as spaghetti bolognese, lamb rogan josh, vegetarian lasagne and fruit pie.

Mr Balls also said he was working with supermarket chains Asda and Aldi to promote the Real Meals book to encourage families to cook together.

'Beating obesity'

Mr Balls' announcement on Wednesday is part of the government's Change4Life scheme, which aims to start a "lifestyle revolution" to help people eat more healthily and be more active.

Mr Balls said: "It is hard to believe but the experts say that nine out of 10 children today could be obese or overweight by 2050.

"Teaching children how to prepare basic recipes from scratch so they can go on to cook for life is one of the keys to beating obesity.

"Many adults don't cook properly or pass on cooking skills to young people - because they feel they don't have time, have never learnt how or feel that proper cooking is too expensive.

"I've always been clear that the onus to pass on cooking skills should not just fall on teachers.

"The fact is that if parents never prepare or eat meals together, then we risk children growing up uninterested in cooking or living healthily."

He called on supermarkets and the food industry to help parents and schools in this endeavour.

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Telegraph Celebrity chefs not inspiring says Ed Balls - 30 hrs ago
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