Eighteen months ago, Foodshare, along with a small group of food and education charities met with the Government to urge them to support the setting up of a Taskforce to explore the benefits of Food Growing in Schools, with a vision of every school child having direct experience of growing food in school. The meeting resulted in the formation of a Taskforce made up of 25 main organisations, and many others who gave their expertise through sub-groups, including the RHS, Garden Organic, Foodshare, Government departments including Defra, The Sun, Morrisons, The Co-op, The WI, Jamie Oliver Foundation and Forestry Commission,.
I am pleased to announce that today the Taskforce has published it’s findings in two major reports (click to view or right-click to save):
I am also delighted that Foodshare’s work has been featured prominantly throughout the reports including a wonderful case study.
The report has an encouraging foreward from Caroline Spelman – Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Please do distribute either or both reports to everyone who will be interested in the findings.
• Builds skills, including life, enterprise and employment related skills
• Improves awareness and understanding of the natural environment
• Promotes health and well being in relation to diet and nutrition
• Supports school improvement and development
• Strengthens communities and interaction
Top line report recommendations:
• A national campaign celebrating food growing in schools
• A policy emphasis on food growing in schools
• A food growing in schools online hub
• Business commitments to support food growing in schools
• Promotion of food growing by school leadership teams
• Improved links between food growing in schools and food-related careers
Stats and Facts:
• 80% of schools grow food (80% of early years, 86% of primary and 72% of secondary schools)
Food growing in schools:
• Raises achievement
• Schools cited the following as motivations for growing food in their school: 68% – supporting the outdoor curriculum, 57% – supporting the science
curriculum, 39% – supporting the food technology curriculum.
• Scientific understanding, numeracy, literacy, and language skills are all enhanced through food growing,
• Supports life skills acquisition
• Life skills including financial literacy and enterprise, skills for employment and communication and interpersonal skills are enhanced
• Improves motivation and behaviour – children and young people arrive early to school and leave late, there is increased attendance and greater completion of homework. There is also less disruptive behaviour, in and out of the classroom.
• Promotes good health and well-being through improved diet and nutrition, increased understanding of healthy lifestyles and improved self-esteem and self confidence
• 73% schools cited teaching children and young people about nutrition as a motivation for food growing, 68%, giving them skills for a healthy adult life and 33% encouraging exercise.
• Improved understanding of food and nutrition, increased willingness to try fruit and vegetables and increased consumption of fruit and vegetables (and take up of school meals where food grown is incorporated into school catering) are all impacts of FGiS.
• Children and young people have increased self-esteem and confidence, as well as a sense of pride and belonging in their school and community.
• Helps schools develop and improve through enabling delivery of a positive whole school ethos, facilitating pupil voice, and supporting the engagement of parents, families and the community.
• 25% of the top 100 performing schools (based on sustained improvement for period 2007 to 2010) are Food for Life Partnership schools.
• Ofsted reports were “more than twice as likely to give FFLP Flagship primary schools a rating of ‘outstanding’ across 10 criteria for inspection compared to the period before programme enrolment”
• Creates benefits for the community – Schools and the wider community share resources, skills and experiences. Creates opportunities for different parts of the community to interact, promoting greater understanding and improving relations. Increases access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Helps build community networks involving businesses, charities, individual volunteers etc.
• School leadership is crucial if food growing is to be embedded in the school and have an impact for all members of the school community. Food growing should be an integral part of the school ethos, prioritised across the curriculum, and have appropriate resources allocated to it. However:
• In only 34% of food growing schools is food growing part of a whole school policy
• Food growing is frequently planned into lessons in only 49% of schools (of these 44% are primary, 34% secondary and 21% early years)
• Only 26% of schools that grow food involve all of their pupils (the same number involve less than a quarter of their pupils)
• 36% of schools cited lack of personnel to supervise activities and lack of personal to coordinate activities as a barrier to food growing.
• Teachers need the support and skills to be able to integrate food growing into their teaching practice (not all teachers need food growing skills per se, but you do need a critical mass that have them). 30% of schools say that difficulty synchronising the curriculum with growing seasons is a barrier to food growing. 46% say lack of time in the curriculum is a barrier – it need not be with improved skills and knowledge.
• Schools (and their wider communities) need access to resources, both material and human- from growing spaces and tools to gardening expertise and advice, and lesson planning and curriculum integration resources. 33% of schools cited a lack of material resources asa barrier to food growing
• Working with the community increases what can be achieved, opens up access to resources and helps reinforce learning that takes place in schools. Only 29% of schools said that they hade received support from businesses, and 20% from charities. So greater scope for engagement and collaboration. (NB seems likely to be under reported given numbers of schools on food growing charity and business databases).