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 4: Eco Schools - Keep Scotland Beautiful

119 page PDF

1.8 MB

Annex 4: Eco Schools - Keep Scotland Beautiful

Background to the project

282. This section provides background information on the project Keep Scotland Beautiful from Eco Schools. It gives a brief description of the project alongside its outcomes and budget.

Project description

283. Eco Schools is an international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education ( FEE). Eco Schools in Scotland is delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful ( KSB). It is designed to encourage whole-school action for the environment. It involves an award scheme which accredits schools that make a commitment to continuously improve their environmental performance.

284. As reported by Keep Scotland Beautiful, up until March 2015 levels of engagement with the Eco Schools programme were very high, 98% of all Scottish schools were registered (within this 100% of all secondary schools).

285. Eco Schools Scotland offers schools a choice of different ' Topics' to work on throughout the school year. As part of the FEP, the Scottish Government provided funding to establish a new Food and Environment topic which aimed to educate young people about food and the environment in the context of sustainable development issues [15] .

286. The Food and Environment topic was targeted at pupils of all ages involved in the Eco Schools programme. In addition, it aimed to influence parents and grandparents, school catering staff, Home Economics departments and the wider community, local businesses and organisations.

287. Eco Schools aimed to collaborate with a wide range of delivery partners, such as: Education Scotland, STEMNET, Soil Association, RHET, Scotland Food and Drink, Creative Scotland, Screen Machine, Young Scot, Grounds for Learning, Scottish Schools Debating Competition, Garden Organic, SAC, The Cooking Bus and Local Authorities among others.

288. The key activities supported by the fund are:

  • Further development of the food and environment topic
  • CPD training to teachers on food and the environment
  • Implementation of events such as: Green Careers event, Discussion events on food sustainability, One Planet Picnic Project and competition, 'Food on Film' or 'Meals on Reels' film tour
  • Development of resources including an online toolkit for the food and environment theme
  • Development of Commonwealth Games and Year of Culture Food and Environment events and/or activities

Project outcomes

289. The overall outcome of Eco Schools was defined as:

Everyone, including our school communities, [knows they] have an important role to play in raising awareness of food-related issues and working together to find sustainable solutions to its production and consumption.

290. Specifically, the objectives of the project were to ensure that:

  • Young people use the Food and Environment theme as a principle resource to learn about food
  • Teachers, teacher training colleges and other relevant organisations are trained and confident in working with the Food and Environment theme
  • The Food and Environment theme is firmly embedded as an accessible resource
  • Young people are aware of the skills needed and opportunities in 'green' careers


291. Over the financial years 2012-15, the Scottish Government provided £225,000 of funding. This has been split equally annually.

Progress on project delivery

292. 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
  • Feedback on challenges faced
  • Feedback from the target populations on successful delivery and satisfaction
  • Identification of characteristics/features of successful projects

Attainment of Scottish Government targets

293. From reports provided by Keep Scotland Beautiful, targets were met (or exceeded) consistently year on year. There did not appear to be any issues with spend or management. The table below shows year on year progress towards achieving its targets.

Table 17: Eco Schools Progress towards achieving targets

Target Progress Status
Targets Year 1

50 schools to attend Green Careers event 25 schools with 10 pupils each attending reaching capacity of event (at 250 pupils) Partially achieved
One Planet Picnic project and competition held Open to all registered schools. Picnics held and entries to competition received from all sectors representing approximately 5,000 pupils Achieved
'Food on Film' or 'Meal on Reels' tour held 35 screening in schools Achieved
Training to 120-150 teachers 144 teachers attended training Achieved
Five schools identifies and supported as Professional Learning Communities Four primaries and one secondary across five local authorities Achieved
Creation of young people focus groups and food sustainability discussion events held Linked with Education Scotland and the Family Learning teams to deliver this within an existing framework. Achieved
Targets Year 2
One Planet Picnic project and competition held 9,822 picnics registered across 28 local authorities. International expansion to 58 nations around the world Exceeded
Training to 120-150 teachers 141 teachers attended training Achieved
50 schools identifies and supported as Professional Learning Communities 58 schools engaged Exceeded
Commonwealth Games project developed and promoted to 3,700 schools Promotion to 3,787 schools Achieved
On-line toolkit developed and published On-going research and discussions regarding content, functionality and structure On-going
Targets Year 3
Commonwealth food and culture events linked to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. 53 participating Eco Schools countries internationally One Planet Picnic available to 58 Eco Schools nations. International launch in Glasgow participating 12,200 students Exceeded
Food and Environment Theme delivered with relevance to Commonwealth Games and Homecoming 2014 Agreement with foundation for Environmental Education ( FEE) Achieved
Provide evidence of the development of global links Attended and contributed to external events/conferences Achieved

294. In addition to pre-established targets, other activities took place. Some examples of such activities in Year 3 include: inception and coordination of KSB response to 'Becoming a Good Food Nation' including a youth discussion submission and attendance and/or contribution to several external organisations and events.

Achievement of project aims

295. Objective #1: Young people use the Food and Environment themes as a principle resource to learn about food. Every year, schools chose a theme to focus learning. If the food and environment topic was selected KSB provided ideas and resources to ensure interdisciplinary learning around the topic. One Planet Picnic was the main route taken to provide a groundwork of learning. By holding One Planet Picnics, schools were meant to celebrate local harvest, reduce food waste and get to know food, friends and their local area better.

296. Objective #2: Teachers, teacher training colleges and other relevant organisations are trained and confident in working with the Food and Environment theme. Since 2012, over 1,100 teachers were either provided with CPD or attended one of the events organised by Eco Schools on the Food and Environment topic.

297. Objective #3: The Food and Environment theme is firmly embedded as an accessible resource. This is one of the 10 topics available to Eco Schools. While the topics chosen by schools vary year on year, so far 37% of registered Eco Schools have engaged with the Food and Environment topic. There are a range of resources available providing various ideas to aid interdisciplinary learning.

298. Objective #4: Young people are aware of the skills needed and opportunities in 'green' careers. During 2012-13 a 'Green Careers' event was attended by around 250 pupils. Feedback from the session was positive from both teachers and pupils. A young person summarised this by stating that the project: ' certainly has broadened my horizons, lots of info that I didn't know'.

299. All in all, Eco Schools achieved its project aims by ensuring that the structure and focus of the Food and Environment topic was aligned with interdisciplinary learning and that teachers were given support to allow the project to achieve its full potential.

300. One potential area for further growth relates to the proportion of schools involved in the Food and Environment topic. While 98% of Scottish Schools are registered as Eco Schools, only 37% of these have engaged with the Food and Environment theme so far.


301. While the project run smoothly reaching and sometimes exceeding its targets, some challenges arose, the main ones are reported below:

  • Low levels of teachers' awareness of the connection between food and the environment. Therefore, the topic sometimes appeared complex and not as easy to grasp as other topic areas
  • Lack of facilities for food preparation, particularly in primary schools, undermines the sustainability message
  • Food preparation appeared hampered by lack of facilities as well as perceptions of health and safety risks
  • Engagement on the topic could be very dependent on staff/management enthusiasm

302. In order to overcome these challenges, Eco schools worked hard to provide training opportunities for teachers. Furthermore, a range of resources were also created for teachers with the aim to overcome fears, insecurities or lack of knowledge around food education. [further details on training and resources can be found in the Embeddedness section that follows]

Feedback from target populations

303. Feedback was collected from teachers attending CPD or general events as well as from students taking part in the Food and Environment topic. Overall, feedback forms showed that participants were enthused and motivated by their involvement in the project.

304. Specifically, teachers' satisfaction with the CPD events was high, with around 90% of teachers rating the sessions as either very good or excellent. Some comments collected from feedback forms include:

  • "A great range of resources to take away were available. I particularly enjoyed looking at samples of work from other schools."
  • "I have already downloaded the curriculum maps for use throughout the school."
  • "Variety of resources to take away which was excellent."

305. From pupils' perspective, feedback collected was positive. One Planet Picnic, in particular, was well received. Anecdotal evidence from teachers showed that children who grew food crops and prepared them were far more likely to taste them and enjoy eating them.

Key features of success

306. The stable infrastructure that Eco Schools provided assisted in the successful delivery of the food element, particularly in the early years of the project. It also helped to ensure a good geographical coverage of Scotland, with most local authorities represented to some degree each year.

307. The continuous investment in CPD for teachers to increase their knowledge and boost their confidence in delivering food education, was well received by teachers. The various events organised and/or hosted by Eco Schools were also welcomed.

308. Eco Schools managed to embrace trend topics like Homecoming Scotland or the Commonwealth Games to engage students and expand the its reach.

Progress on Programme Outcomes

309. This section focuses on the impact that Eco Schools has had on the wider FEP outcomes of Opportunities, Embeddedness, Investment and Learning and Behaviour Change. Each outcome is discussed in turn.


310. Eco Schools increased the number of pupil opportunities provided to learn about food on a yearly basis. During Year 1 just over 7,800 opportunities were created. This increased to around 10,000 during Year 2 and to just over 12,200 in Year 3. During Year 3, an additional 1,089 young people engaged in the online discussion for 'Becoming a Good Food Nation' (involving 156 secondary schools and 18 higher education establishments).

311. During the latest full reporting year (Year 3), 1,372 schools engaged in learning and teaching relevant to the Food and the Environment topic, representing 37% of the 3,742 registered schools. The table below shows progress over time:

Table 18: Proportion of registered Eco Schools engaging with the Food and Environment topic

Year Calculation
(No of schools/no of registered schools)
Percentage of registered Eco Schools engaged with Food and Environment topic
Pilot 1 [2011] 263/3054 x 100 9
Pilot 2 [2011-12] 656/3073 x 100 21
Year 1 [2012-13] 891/3796 x 100 23
Year 2 [2013-14] 1034/3797 x 100 27
Year 3 [2014-15] 1372/3742 x 100 37

312. Eco Schools expanded the reach of the Food and Environment topic by recruiting new schools year on year. Indicative figures suggest that between 200 and 340 new schools were recruited each year.

313. The activities provided as part of the food topic were wide ranging. The most common activity was around growing food, although monitoring and reducing food waste as well as learning about the environmental impacts of food choices were key topic areas. The table below provides detail on the types of activity undertaken over time. (Note that not all schools participated in the survey, response rates were low and varied between 9% and 11%).

Table 19: Types of activities undertaken over time by Eco Schools on Food and Environment topic

Are you….? Year 1 (n=410)
Year 2 (n=414)
Year 3 (n=341)
… growing food 90 87 87
…monitoring and reducing food waste 54 62 64
….learning about the environmental impacts of food choices 58 62 63
…using school produce 51 60 60
…talking to/visiting food producers 30 37 43
…working on food section of schools global footprint 12 - -

314. The coverage of the Food and Environment topic from Eco schools was widespread across Scotland. The map below demonstrates that over time the project has reached all local authorities albeit at different degrees.

Image 5: Eco Schools geographical coverage



315. Eco Schools reported a strong involvement in CPD opportunities for teachers. However, it should be noted that during Year 3, training was limited to contributions to external events - such as North Lanarkshire Eco-Group, Workshop for General Teaching Council Scotland professional recognition day or the Eat Drink Discover Scotland 'Pop-Up One Planet Picnic' activity. Detail of progress over time is reported in the table below:

Table 20: Keep Scotland Beautiful - Embeddedness progress - details

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Number of CPD training events/similar 8 9 6
Number of teachers reached 144 175 100+
Number of schools attended PLC [16] n/a 58 23+

316. The project developed and distributed multiple and varied resources. During Year 3 alone, the following resources were created: online toolkit on Food and Environment for schools, discrete project as part of the Commonwealth Games for FEE to facilitate participation, online discussion materials to support responses to 'Becoming a Good Food Nation' and an online guide which outlined issues for Food and the Environment.

317. Verbal and anecdotal evidence showed that workshops were valued greatly and that teachers intended to try the activities with their classes. CPD events, were also highly regarded - teachers particularly appreciated the range of resources distributed and examples of work given from other schools.

318. All in all, the project demonstrated a sense of commitment in ensuring that food activities were embedded in the curriculum. A range of resources were created and updated constantly. Feedback from teachers was encouraging and anecdotal evidence from pupils was positive.


319. The amount of in-kind investment received by the project roughly matched Scottish Government funding of £75,000 per year. During Year 1, in-kind contributions reached around £72,500 and during Year 2 it increased to £82,500. During Year 3 of the project, in-kind contributions for Scotland were estimated by Eco Schools at £68,680.

320. During Year 3, a range of food and culture events took place to link Eco Schools to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Eco Schools was tasked with facilitating the global links and raising the profile internationally. In order to promote this, additional in-kind investment was received to provide an online advertising platform to promote the international aspect of the project. This was estimated to be worth just over £2 million. For the purpose of this evaluation, the level of in-kind investment tracked covers the amount raised solely through the Food and Environment topic for Scotland (i.e. £68,680 for Year 3).

321. In order to measure the potential impact on the local community, schools were asked whether they intend to visit or use the local food shops or businesses in preparation for their One Planet Picnic. During Year 3, 86% (representing 10,850 pupils) said that they intended to visit or use local food shops or businesses for part of their picnic. This proportion is consistent with the previous year (83% at Year 2).

Learning and Behaviour Change

322. Data collected from pupil surveys was very positive. Results were fairly consistent over the years, with positive results recorded across the board. An example of specific results for Year 3 is outlined below, and should be noted that this is highly consistent with previous years.

  • 86% of all registered One Planet Picnics declared that they intended to utilise local suppliers and shops.
  • 71% of all registered One Planet Picnic that declared the aspect of one Planet Picnic they were interested in, said it was local food.
  • 64% of all registered One Planet Picnics that declared the aspect of One Planet Picnic they were interested in, said it was seasonal food.
  1. 323. The sessions appeared to inspire students to continue improving and learning. Comments from young people in secondary school and tertiary education suggest that more education on eating healthy and other ideas to tackle the obesity epidemic in Scotland was required. Specifically, a student said ' I think you should restrict what a teenager should be able to purchase. The amount of bad unhealthy food I see purchased by teens my age is astoundingly high'.


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