Publication - Research publication

Evaluation of the Food Education Programme (2012-2015)

Published: 23 Mar 2016

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

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

Evaluation of the Food Education Programme (2012-2015)
Progress on Overall Programme Outcomes

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

Progress on Overall Programme Outcomes

77. The overall aim of the Food Education Programme is to increase young people's knowledge and understanding regarding the social, cultural, economic, health and environmental aspects of the food we eat.

78. The following outcomes were set for the programme:

  • Opportunities to learn about food are 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

79. This chapter evaluates progress towards the overall programme outcomes, looking at each in turn: Opportunities, Embeddedness, Investment and Knowledge and Behaviour.


80. This outcome focuses on the number of opportunities created by each individual project for pupils to learn about food. This has been assessed using data collected from individual projects to estimate the total:

  • number of pupils who had an opportunity to learn about food through the FEP
  • number of schools supported by the FEP to provide food education

81. The data showed that reach of the FEP grew year on year; from around 50,000 pupils engaged in the baseline years (2010-12) to 82,300 in Year 1 and to 111,500 in Year 2. Recorded pupil opportunities for Year 3 stood at 130,900, representing a 15% increase from the previous financial year.

82. During the period 2010-15, the FEP delivered around 374,700 individual opportunities for pupils to learn through food education projects.

83. Likewise, the number of opportunities for schools to engage in food education activities increased over time. It is estimated that 1,461 opportunities for schools were created to engage with the programme through 2014-15 alone. This represents a 27% increase from the previous year.

84. The table below summarises the number of schools engaged and pupil opportunities created by the programme.

Table 4: Summary of reach opportunities created over time

Year 1
Year 2 2013-14 Year 3
Number of opportunities for schools to engage in food education activities 800 1,003 1,152 1,461
Pupil opportunities to learn about food 45,000-55,000 82,300 111,500 130,900

85. Over the course of the programme (2012-15), at least 57% of all primary school, 52% of all secondary schools and 29% of all special needs schools have been engaged at least once. The figures below show the coverage of the programme in primary and secondary compared to the overall school tally for Scotland.

Image 1: FEP Geographical coverage of primary schools 2012-2015


Image 2: FEP Geographical coverage of secondary schools 2012-2015 through FEP


86. The data suggests that good progress was made in reaching over half of schools (both primary and secondary schools) in the first three years of the programme. However, there is potential for further growth in engaging more schools.


87. Embeddedness of the FEP relates to:

  • How confident and enthused teachers and schools were using food as a learning resource
  • How useful they found using food as a tool to implement the learning principles of the new CfE
  • The extent to which food education activities were supported by a range of resources.

88. The following indicators were used to measure progress made on Embeddedness:

  • Number of teachers attending CPD sessions on food education
  • Feedback from CPD (or other events) indicating positive impacts on learning, enthusiasm and confidence
  • Resources - range, availability and feedback on use

89. Over the course of the programme, CPD opportunities for teachers increased steadily from 700 individual opportunities during the pilot years 2010-12, to a record of 5,022 during the latest FEP year 2014-15 - a sevenfold increase. The main contributors to this indicator were Education Scotland (through Food For Thought and their Food and Health Development Officer) and Seafood at Schools. Further detail is provided in the table below:

Table 5: Number of teachers reported to attend a CPD event over time

Year 1
Year 2 2013-14 Year 3
Number of teachers attending CPD events 700 1,770 2,400 5,022

90. Where provided and measured, feedback on CPD events continued to be on the whole very positive and appeared to encourage and inspire teachers to use food and drink intrinsically throughout the curriculum.

91. Among those projects that measured teachers' confidence in using food as a topic for interdisciplinary learning, this appeared to have increased over time. Although, it should be noted that this measure of confidence was self-reported by (in some cases the small number of) teachers who completed the feedback forms [2] .

92. A wide range of resources was developed through the life of FEP by the different projects ranging from posters, leaflets, booklets, films, case studies and books - and most of these resources were made available online.

93. Furthermore, most projects used their individual website as a platform for teachers to access further resources. Where data was available, online downloads showed an increase over time.

94. In some cases, materials were translated into Gaelic (specifically through Crofting Connections and Seafood in Schools) and used as a tool for developing language skills too.

95. On the whole, most of the FEP projects endeavoured to demonstrate a commitment towards providing learning opportunities for teachers through CPD and other events as well as through continuous updating and expansion of resources. Where measured, this enhanced teachers' confidence in using food and drink as a subject for learning throughout the curriculum.


96. A further outcome of the programme was defined as 'industry investment in food education is demonstrated and has increased/continues to increase, with commitment of industry to continue with engagement/partnerships'.

97. In order to measure progress towards this outcome, data was collated by project coordinators on the number of businesses and other external organisations working in partnership or providing resources to the FEP projects.

98. In-kind investment into the programme took many forms including staff and professional expertise, time, varying provisions of resources and facilities, donations of prizes, provision of venues, free media coverage from a wide range of businesses including: bakers, fishmongers, butchers, farmers, marts, large businesses and major retailers, community members, chefs, aquariums and research organisations. A year on year increase in in-kind investment was treated as an indicator of success.

99. Since the programme started in 2010, overall in-kind investment from industry and other external partners was conservatively estimated by the project coordinators at over £2.5 million [3] compared to around £3 million funded by the Scottish Government.

100. Over time and assuming that an even split of in-kind investment took place during the first two baseline years (ca. £200,000 in each year), there was a progressive increase of external investment.

101. From the data collected so far, industry and other external partners contributed an estimated £851,480 of in-kind investment in food education during Year 3 alone.

102. The table below shows amounts invested both by the Scottish Government and the estimated in-kind equivalent provided by industry and other external partners.

Table 6: Overall amount of investment (£) over time

Year 1
Year 2 2013-14 Year 3
Scottish Government funding £610,000 £462,284 £1,025,846 £998,446
In-kind investment from industry and other external partners £410,000 £546,900 £729,900 £851,480

103. It should be noted that it was very difficult to cost some in-kind contributions; consequently, the amounts quoted above should be treated strictly as conservative indicative estimates and not as exact contributions.

Learning and Behaviour Change

104. The last two intended outcomes of the programme relate to greater knowledge and awareness regarding food and a positive change in attitude, intentions and behaviour around food issues, food choices and career options.

105. The majority of individual projects collected feedback from pupils and teachers on learning and their experience of taking part in the project. This was primarily achieved using post activity feedback forms. The Scottish Government provided some guidance on generic types of questions to attain consistent data across projects. However, flexibilities were also applied to allow individual projects to tailor some of the questions to individual needs.

106. It should be noted that while the impact of the projects on knowledge and awareness could be directly measured upon completion of individual activities or attending specific events, a positive change in attitudes/intention/behaviour could not be directly measured within the current review design. Resources were limited and could not sustain a post project evaluation of possible behaviour impact on teachers and pupils. It has therefore been inferred only from early and mid-term outcomes based on the information collected on feedback forms from teachers and pupils.

107. While impact on learning and behaviours has been difficult to assess robustly, there were indications that the FEP had some short-term positive effect on both respects. For example, pupils indicated that taking part in the programme increased their knowledge of food and its impact on the environment.

108. Some projects asked participants to state what they had learned as a result of taking part in the programme. The majority of students agreed that participating in the FEP helped increased awareness around food issues and food choices. Depending on the project they took part in, knowledge raising was focused around seafood, or farming or careers in the food industry for example. Though more established in primary schools, food was used as a context for learning across multiple disciplines, although the main focus continued to be on Health & Wellbeing.

109. The data appears to suggest that there was increased knowledge for example around growing food and cooking with raw produce. Furthermore, projects involving growing and/or cooking food reported an increased proportion of pupils that were willing to try new foods and for the most part claimed a positive shift on intended future behaviour.

110. Another area where the programme appeared particularly successful was around increasing awareness and knowledge of careers in the sector. In some instances pupils appeared surprised by the wide range of disciplines that are relevant and skills needed by the food and drink industry.

111. While progress towards this outcome, does not necessarily mean long term behaviour change, it indicates a step in the right direction.

Summary of overall programme outcomes

112. Overall, the programme appeared to have made good progress towards achieving its outcomes (opportunities, embeddedness, investment and learning and behaviour), albeit to different degrees for individual projects.

113. Reach of the FEP grew year on year. Since the programme started in 2010, the programme has delivered around 374,700 individual opportunities for pupils to learn through food education projects.

114. The number of opportunities for teachers to attend food education related CPD events also increased year on year - just under 10,000 opportunities were created since the programme started. Furthermore, there was a reported increase in confidence among teachers in using food as a tool for interdisciplinary learning.

115. As the programme progressed, food as a topic appeared more established in the curriculum. While good progress was reported among primary schools, it appeared to have been more challenging to establish food as an interdisciplinary topic among secondary schools (where the main focus continued to be around the 'Health & Wellbeing' theme).

116. The amount of in-kind investment received from industry and other external partners also grew over time. Overall, in-kind investment since 2010 was conservatively estimated at just over £2.5 million compared to around £3 million funded by the Scottish Government.

117. While difficult to assess robustly, from surveys conducted by project coordinators amongst pupils and teachers, knowledge about food appeared to have increased since initiation of the programme. Feedback from activities undertaken was on the whole very positive, with students highly enthusiastic and keen to continue learning about food.

118. Impact on learning and behaviours has not been possible to assess robustly, but there were indications that the programme had some short-term positive effect on behaviour. While these positive outcomes do not necessarily entail long term behaviour change, they are a step in the right direction.


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