Cooking and Catering


Our learners come to Cooking and Catering from a wide variety of starting points. Their cooking choices will depend on:

  • what they like to eat and what they can eat
  • their physical and cognitive ability
  • their skill level e.g. what they are able to cook independently and then able to cook with support
  • the facilities and support available at home

Helping learners to remember what they have been taught in the long term requires the use of process-based learning, alongside skills-based learning. The process-based learning (that is, learning by ‘doing’ without any fixed or rigid target) will be more in evidence once the learner has established a sound base of core skills. Further, such skills, for example, spreading, cutting, chopping, dicing, washing up, drying, putting away, using an electric socket, using a toaster, using a sandwich maker, using a blender, using a hob, etc, will probably largely be learned by rote, that is, going through a set sequence of activities that never varies and never changes and repeating such a sequence many hundreds of times. Whilst it is recognised that the art of cooking is in the variation, the art can only be achieved if the core skills are established, though it is of course, perfectly possible to cook many and varied meals by mastering the core skills.

We aim to follow the National Food Strategy July 2021 Recommendation 3 – “Eating well is much easier if you know how to cook from scratch. But culinary skills and knowledge have declined across every social class since convenience food became widely available – and are still declining, as one generation after another grows up without seeing or trying cookery at home. Since the publication of the School Food Plan in 2014, schools have had a legal requirement to teach cookery and nutrition to all children up to the age of 14. The National Curriculum D&T programme of study states that schools should attempt to “instil a love of cooking in pupils”, while teaching them the kitchen skills necessary “to feed themselves and others affordably and well, now and in later life”. By 14, all pupils should be able to “understand the source, seasonality and characteristics of a broad range of ingredients” and “cook a repertoire of predominantly savoury dishes”. Our learners are likely to need more time to achieve some or all of this recommendation, but this is our intent. Also, cooking and catering creates opportunities for sensory exploration, physical therapeutic activities and the development of social skills associated with mealtimes.


We deliver a curriculum which develops knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • hygiene and safety in the kitchen, including the safe use of kitchen equipment
  • healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle
  • handling and storing food safely
  • modification of dishes based on culture, belief, need, cost and how to improve them
  • how to shop wisely for foods in order to get the best value for money
  • allow learners to repeatedly practice core cooking skills in order to master a skill whenever possible

The principles governing the schemes of work in Cooking & Catering are that the schemes are developmental in nature and open to personalisation – they start at the beginning of the individual learner’s journey and aim for the highest level of independence possible. Learners ‘come in’ and ‘leave’ at stages appropriate to them. Learners fit into them where they will according to their individual abilities, interests and learning journey.

A specialist pathway in Cooking & Catering is offered to learners from Year 10, through to 6th form.

Cooking and Catering is taught across the school to a range of classes, mostly to Skills for Life learners. Elsewhere, elements of the curriculum are delivered by class teachers through other subjects e.g. PSHE, Science, PE (Healthy Lifestyles), Maths (weighing, measuring)

Whilst Cooking and Catering carries with it a great many hazards and risks this should not, and must not, stop us from aiming at maximising all learners’ ability to cook as independently as they can. Everyone involved, including parents and carers, must acknowledge that there are always risks involved when working in a kitchen, but that these risks can be minimised if they are recognised in advance. Cooking and Catering rooms are risk assessed; individual students are risk assessed if this is required.


The curriculum is a mixture of skills-based learning and process-based learning and as such, is accessible to all learners. All learners are assessed according to individual progress. Some of our learners may not achieve the level of independence required to gain the qualification, but they will have achieved basic core skills that will enable them to prepare food safely.

The recipes we use are a means to practice and learn cooking skills and we revisit these skills over the course of the curriculum to maximise the opportunities to practice. The cumulative skills and the qualification we offer allow access to further education and employment in the catering industry.

The impact of our curriculum is clearly evident in our accreditation results and examiner feedback. We use the following ways to monitor and assess the impact of our curriculum:

  • AfL questioning techniques in the classroom
  • Photos
  • Observation of learner performance in the classroom
  • Learner self-assessment using feedback form
  • Department spreadsheet to track individual skills development
  • We hope to introduce Evidence for Learning to bring together evidence (from photos, spreadsheet and feedback forms).


Sixth form students complete the BTEC Level 1 Home Cooking Skills Award.

Click here for the Upper School Curriculum Plan