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)
Annex 3: Dumfries House Food Learning Centre

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

Annex 3: Dumfries House Food Learning Centre

Background to the project

245. This section provides background information to the project Dumfries House Food Learning Centre. It describes how the project came to life, discusses the project's aims, outcomes and budget.

Project description

246. In June 2007, HRH The Prince of Wales led a consortium of charities and heritage bodies in purchasing Dumfries House (its contents and adjoining land) in East Ayrshire. This was done to keep the estate intact and accessible to the public. A charitable trust, 'The Great Steward of Scotland's Dumfries House Trust', was formed to support economic regeneration in south west Scotland. A major feature of the Trust's development plan was a new Food Learning Centre.

247. In 2011, the Scottish Government provided funding primarily to support an Education Development Officer, at the Dumfries House Food Learning Centre. The development officer role was funded to help facilitate pupils' education in regards to how their food is produced, where it comes from and how it affects their health and the wider environment through a variety of indoor and outdoor activities.

248. The project sought to augment food related learning already taking place in schools by bringing their learning to life via the delivery of a range of active learning experiences using dedicated food classrooms, cook's school, educational gardens and allotments. It was also expected to be close engagement with the estate farm operated by Morrison's supermarket. Additionally, the project aimed to develop resources and deliver a programme of CPD for teachers.

249. Further funding from the Scottish Government was provided for 2012-15 to enable the on-going development of the food education programme and facilities at Dumfries House, with the aim of establishing it as a national centre for excellence in food education.

250. The main activities of Dumfries House were to:

  • Promote the food education programme element to schools
  • Develop a website and other resources
  • Deliver CPD to teachers in collaboration with other FEP projects
  • Develop pupil food ambassadors in collaboration with RHET
  • Hold an annual Food Education Conference
  • Establish and support a network of partner and stakeholder organisations to ensure the development of a common and focused programme
  • Offer facilities for stakeholders and partner organisations to work from in support of their specific training and use for conference purposes

251. As part of the FEP, children through Dumfries House Food learning centre were meant to:

  • Plant, grow, harvest, handle, taste and explore with a variety of fruit and vegetables
  • Look at soils and fertilizers
  • Compare home grown with tinned/processed fruit and vegetables from supermarkets
  • Undertake farm visits and farm related activities linked to livestock and crop production
  • Cook recipes with their produce with an emphasis on healthy eating and health and safety

252. The activities for children were designed to address knowledge and understanding in various areas of the wellbeing aspect in CfE:

  • about where food comes from
  • about cereal, crop, fruit & vegetable growth as a food
  • about livestock production as a food source
  • about the link between the land and the livestock from experiential, hands on approach
  • about the production of food through to healthy eating, safe food preparation and presentation

Project aims and outcomes

253. The overall aim of the Dumfries House Food Learning centre was to set Dumfries House as a national centre of food education excellence.

254. Specifically, the project aimed to provide opportunities for children to take part in an experiential learning programme designed to increase their knowledge about food, where it comes from and how it influences health and wellbeing, the economy and the environment.


255. Between 2013 and 2015, the project received total funding of £225,000 (£75,000 per year) from the Scottish Government.

Progress on project delivery

256. Progress on project delivery, was assessed using information gathered from various data provided, which included:

  • Individual projects' progress against targets set by the Scottish Government
  • Individual projects' achievement of project aims
  • Challenges faced
  • Feedback from the target populations on successful delivery and satisfaction
  • Identification of characteristics/features of successful projects

Attainment of Scottish Government targets

257. Many of the targets set for the project were not fully achieved. This was mainly due to the delay in getting all the facilities in place and a lack of resources, i.e. staff, to undertake the work needed.

258. The table below summarises progress towards the yearly targets set for the project by the Scottish Government.

Table 15: Dumfries House - Food Learning Centre Progress towards achieving targets

Target Progress Status
Year 1

Nursery, Primary and Secondary school programme pilots established Limited to a handful of nursery, Eco-groups, one primary, one secondary and one special needs class. Achieved
Taste Ayrshire Family Tour and Exploring Food Event held Achieved. No detail provided on footfall. Achieved
Secondary School Food Explorers programme established in partnership with RHET Programme outlined, but not implemented. Not achieved
Website development of content and resources Initial content uploaded. But resources still to be created and made available. Work still on-going
Year 2
Educational programme rollout to all schools within 30 miles of Dumfries House Roll-out first within 15 miles radios, which slowly expanded. But unclear the scope or speed of expansion. Partially achieved
All lessons plans, resource and support materials developed and available Some resources available, but no clear indication of the content or scope of these. Partially achieved
Annual Food Education Conference held A decision was made to change the format of this, to provide more tailored workshops to schools instead. A revised programme still to be visualised. Not achieved
Year 3
CPD programme rollout - 600 teachers to attend Each school attending sent the core teaching staff to attend a one evening twilight induction, awareness and CPD session, where they go through what their children will experience. Achieved
At least 18,000 children to have participated in an educational visit Self-reported calculation by Dumfries House calculates that the target of at least 18,000 pupils was achieved. However, it should be pointed out the lack of robust evidence to back the claim. Partially achieved
Annual Food Education conference held and delivered in partnership with other organisations Not pursue due to changes in plans. The idea of more tailored workshops is still to be materialised. Not achieved
Educational Programme has proven national reach Majority of students from Ayrshire. Courses were so well received that were quickly booked by those in the locality. Work in progress to expand reach. Not achieved
Celebrity Chef Competition and visit held 'The Great Scottish Frozen Dessert Challenge' - approximately 60 schools took part with the majority using the resource as a class activity. Achieved

259. While the project did not meet some of its targets, it engaged in a range of other activities which included, working with the Royal Horticultural Society on the 'Edible Food Garden' programme and with Cordia on the 'Class Roots' programme (which is run by Glasgow City and Renfrewshire councils).

Achievement of project aims

260. The overall aim of the Dumfries House Food Learning centre to become a national centre of food education excellence is still to be achieved.

261. While the project endeavours to succeed as a centre for excellence, its services are currently focused in its surrounding areas. The project reported that accessibility to the facilities was the main challenge encountered by schools, with many schools lacking the resources to transport children to the centre or being restricted due to the length of time it could take to do a round trip to the centre.

262. However, for schools that took part in the project's activities, feedback appeared to be positive - with a range of programmes and activities in place to suit different needs and requirements.


263. The main challenges the project faced in delivering its targets include:

  • Limited availability of facilities and staff - which meant that systems were not fully up and running by the time the programme started in 2012.
  • Poorer reach than expected - due in part to not having fully functioning facilities to work from.
  • Transport costs faced by schools - even though part of the Scottish Government funding was used to subsidise transport, it would appear that this was not sufficient. Furthermore, some schools that were further afield struggled to make the time commitment necessary to reach the centre and then take part in the activities.

264. In response to these obstacles, during Year 2 of the project two part time primary teachers and one full time gardener were employed specifically to develop creative and innovative lessons plans. Additionally, two mini buses were acquired and two drivers employed to facilitate transport to and from schools to the centre.

265. The project collaborated with other FEP partners, namely Education Scotland, RHET and Chefs@School. Further partnership work was also undertaken with other food education projects, namely Cordia and Science Connects.

Feedback from target populations

266. No formal measurements of success were established by Dumfries House, as such there was a lack of evidence in this respect.

267. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence suggested that pupils who participated were enthusiastic about their experience. Furthermore, the food learning centre was booked to capacity fairly quickly as soon as the facilities were in place and the programme started running. This demonstrated a clear appetite for the project and a sizeable target audience.

268. There was no information on teachers' response to the CPD sessions and/or other learning events.

Key features of success

269. While progress was slower than anticipated, the project grew since 2012.

270. Despite limited resources available staff appeared committed to make it work and translated the vision into a workable programme.

271. There was a commitment to create a range of CPD sessions for teachers, although the impact of these is yet to be reported.

272. There was good coverage of Ayrshire - though it should be noted that the project was set up to achieve a national reach.

Progress on Programme Outcomes


273. This section reports on progress towards the overall programme outcome: Opportunities to learn about food are provided to young people.

274. Evidence was unclear as to what had been the absolute number of opportunities created. Reports up until January 2015, stated a total figure of over 7,000 opportunities. Subsequent reporting in March 2015, estimated that throughout the three years of the programme, 18,000 opportunities for young people to learn about food were established. No evidence of the latter was given, however.

275. For the purpose of this evaluation, data was used from the January 2015 report, as more detailed background was provided as to how the different opportunities to learn about food were created. The table below displays the figures as provided on reports as per January 2015.

Table 16: Dumfries House Opportunities Created Over time

FEP: Year 1 2012-13 FEP: Year 2 2013-14 FEP: Year 3 2014-15
Total number of schools 9 21 167
- of which primaries (incl. nurseries) 7 17 120
- of which secondaries 1 3 47
- of which SEN 1 1 -
Total number of pupils reached no data 1,986 5,250
Total number of teachers no data 352 248

276. Since the project started over 7,200 opportunities for pupils to learn about food were documented. These came from just under 170 primary schools.

277. The project grew over the last three years showing great potential.

278. While the project was set to become a national reference for food education, it still has to demonstrate a nationwide reach. So far, the scope of the project was concentrated around the Central Belt, particularly Ayrshire.


279. Each school attending the centre sent their core teaching staff on an evening twilight induction, awareness and CPD session, where teachers went through what their children will experience. No feedback was provided on the success of these sessions.

280. Since the project started, a total of 600 teachers were engaged in this way: 352 during Year 2 and 248 during Year 3.

281. Limited information was shared regarding the type, amount or depth of resources created. The website was developed, but there were no links to access resources or shared information.


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Learning and Behaviour Change

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