Evaluation of the Food Education Programme (2012-2015)

Report evaluating how all nine projects have contributed to the programme’s overall outcomes.

Executive Summary


1. The Food Education Programme ( FEP) is a Scottish Government funded programme which consists of nine projects - Chefs@School, Crofting Connections, Dumfries House Learning Centre, Eco Schools, Futures in Food, Food for Thought Fund, Food & Health Development Officer, From Farm to Plate, Seafood in Schools.

2. The programme's overall objective is to increase young people's knowledge and understanding of the food they eat, how it impacts on their health and the environment, as well as highlighting careers in the industry.

3. Specifically, the programme outcomes are:

  • Opportunities to learn about food have been implemented
  • Food education is embedded in the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and there are prospects for continued learning beyond the life of the programme
  • Industry investment in food education has been demonstrated
  • Knowledge and awareness regarding food has increased, whether social, cultural, economic, health, environmental or potential for a career in the food industry
  • Positive change in attitudes/intentions/behaviour can be demonstrated regarding food issues, food choices and career options

4. Over the period 2010-2015, just over £3 million was pledged by Scottish Government to support food education.

5. The target population of the FEP are primary/secondary pupils and other young people as well as teachers and the wider community.

Progress towards programme outcomes

6. Progress made towards achieving the programme outcomes is summarised below:

Outcome # 1: Opportunities to learn about food are established

  • The programme's reach continues to grow year on year.
  • Since the programme started in 2010, it has delivered around 374,700 individual opportunities for pupils to learn about food through the various projects.

Outcome #2: Food Education is embedded in the Curriculum for Excellence

  • The number of opportunities for teachers to attend food education related CPD events have increased year on year. Since the programme started, just under 9,900 individual opportunities for teachers have been created.
  • There has also been a reported increase in confidence among teachers in relation to using food across different subject areas.
  • Over time, food as a topic for interdisciplinary learning, appears more established in the curriculum of schools taking part in the programme. However, it has been more challenging to establish food as an interdisciplinary topic among secondary schools (compared to primaries), due to the number of school departments that are required to work together to deliver food education.

Outcome #3: Food and Drink Industry are engaged and invest in food education

  • The amount of in-kind investment given by industry and other external partners to individual projects has increased year on year.
  • It is conservatively estimated that since 2010, the programme has received over £2.5 million worth of in-kind investment from industry and other external partners. This compares to around £3 million funded by the Scottish Government over the same period.
  • Projects with industry/business engagement at their core such as Futures in Food (by SFDF) or Seafood in Schools (by Seafood Scotland) have received the most in-kind investment.

Outcome #4: Increased pupil knowledge and understanding of the social, cultural, economic, health and environmental aspects of the food we eat

  • While difficult to assess robustly, surveys conducted by project coordinators on pupils and teachers, suggest that knowledge has increased.
  • The feedback collected from activities undertaken is on the whole very positive, with pupils highly enthusiastic and keen to continue learning about food.
  • Though the programme appears more established in primary schools, food has been used as a context for learning across multiple disciplines in secondary schools. However, the main focus continues to be on Health & Wellbeing.

Outcome #5: Improved pupil food choice attitudes and behaviours

  • While impact of the programme on pupils food choice and behaviours has not been possible to assess robustly, there are indications that the FEP has had some short-term positive effect on pupils' behaviour e.g. in terms of trying new foods or eating more locally/home grown food. While these positive outcomes do not necessarily mean long term behaviour change, they are indeed a step in the right direction.


7. On the whole, the programme has been a success during the period it has run, with individual projects meeting and sometimes exceeding their targets.

8. In terms of delivery, the programme appeared to work well with no significant issues raised in terms of infrastructure, management or budget.

9. Good progress was also made, albeit to different degrees (by the different projects), against each of the programme outcomes.

10. Even though it was not possible to assess long term impact or behaviour change, data collected suggests that the programme has allowed pupils and teachers to make progress in the desired direction.

11. Over the time it has been running, the FEP has created a solid platform for the continuous inclusion of food as a topic for interdisciplinary learning in schools. The wide range of resources created, the extend of usage of these materials and the positive feedback provided by teachers who attended CPD or other learning events, demonstrates a clear appetite for continuous learning and availability of resources to support food education.

12. Teachers have played a vital role in the successful implementation of the programme, demonstrated via the increased number of teachers attending CPD or other events as well as through the significant use of the various teaching resources that have been made available to them.

13. However, there was also evidence of some resistance among some schools/teachers to engage with the programme. This was due to lack of resources and limited understanding and confidence among teachers on how to use food as a topic for learning. For project coordinators, overcoming this resistance remains an area of focus and review.

14. While some good progress has been achieved, there is still scope for further expansion with just over half of Scotland's primary and secondary schools having been involved in the programme so far.

15. With the level of industry in-kind investment in the programme increasing over time, there might be scope for greater independence of some of the projects, and therefore less reliance on Scottish Government funding.


Email: RESAS, socialresearch@gov.scot

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