‘Make Cookery Compulsory’ Demand
Health organisations, teachers’ unions and children’s charities are demanding compulsory cookery lessons in schools.
More than 50 bodies, including the British Heart Foundation, say it is a scandal that so many pupils leave school unable to cook.
They said voluntary lessons in cookery would not reach those pupils most likely to have poor eating habits.
The Department for Education and Skills said, from 2008, schools had to offer lessons to pupils who wanted them.
‘Vicious circle of ignorance’
But many high-profile organisations, such as the British Dental Health Foundation, Unison, the National Obesity Forum, the British Medical Association and Friends of the Earth, believe this does not go far enough.
Their joint letter to Mr Johnson said: “It is a national scandal that so many young people leave our schools unable to prepare a simple meal. Poor diet is a key cause of the current obesity epidemic.
“And, quite simply, those without basic cooking skills are very likely to be condemned to a shorter life because they will be left with little alternative but to buy expensive, processed food – high in fats, sugar and salt – and pass this pattern of behaviour onto their children.”
“Many of those children will now be parents themselves and, unless they were lucky enough to have been taught these skills in the home, will have been left lacking the ability to look after themselves, let alone others in their care.
Shadow Schools Minister Nick Gibb, said: “It is right to offer cooking as an option in secondary schools but not to make it compulsory.
“It would be odd for citizenship and cooking to be compulsory, whilst studying a modern foreign language is not.
“Schools are there to educate our children and cannot be expected on their own to tackle every social problem.”