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Schools and Colleges get set for Healthy Eating Week

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Schools and Colleges across the UK are invited to take part in the British Nutrition Foundation’s (@BNFEvents) new style of Healthy Eating Week for 2021, which invites students and teachers to ‘Find Your Healthier You’. 

Taking place from 14-18 June 2021, Healthy Eating Week aims to encourage everyone to reflect on their lifestyle and find ways to enhance their own health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on what they eat and drink.

The British Nutrition Foundation emphasises that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to a healthy diet and lifestyle and, for Healthy Eating Week 2021, the charity will launch a series of new resources, providing information and tools to help students and adults to find their best approach to eating well and keeping active.

Roy Ballam, Managing Director and Head of Education, British Nutrition Foundation, comments:

“With the challenges we have all faced over the past year, we want to help young people to re-focus and feel empowered to look after their own health. So, through Healthy Eating Week, we will provide a range of evidence-based resources and tools to help the nation tackle the barriers that can get in the way of eating well and moving more. We have lots of new resource specifically designed for schools and nurseries – we hope that everyone can get stuck in, have some fun, and make a positive change for their health.”

Free to register, Healthy Eating Week attracts thousands of schools and workplaces every year to take part in a range of group-based and individual activities.

To support the new ‘Find Your Healthier You’ format, Healthy Eating Week will focus on five daily themes:

  1. Know the facts: Day one will start with the basics of healthy eating, busting the myths around nutrition and giving practical advice on what (or what not!) to eat. Teachers and pupils can all take part in a healthy eating quiz, and challenges range from creating a menu based on the Eatwell guide, to keeping hydration diaries, to making posters on the importance of fibre.
  2. Make a healthier choice: Tips and tools will be shared around how students can think about healthier choices. From understanding food labels and getting to grips with portion sizes, there will be a range of educational activities for all ages.
  3. Plan for success: Planning ahead can help all of us make healthier choices; on this day, students will be tasked with creating meal planners for themselves and their friends, as well as looking at recipe planners to help them make healthier choices, while not blowing the budget!
  4. Be the chef: This day will combine healthy eating know-how with practical cooking tips to help everyone make tasty, healthier meals. Healthier cooking tips will be given, with recipes and ideas for inspiration. 
  5. Keep moving: It’s not just about what you eat and drink. Being active has many benefits for health and is an important part of a healthier lifestyle. Children, teenagers and teachers can look forward to lots of ‘keep moving’ activities on the final day of Healthy Eating Week.

New guide for teachers on food education for children and young people with additional needs 

Photo credit: Step and Stone

The British Nutrition Foundation has launched a first-of-its-kind guide to support teachers in delivering food and nutrition education to pupils with additional needs: ‘Characteristics of good practice in teaching food and nutrition education to pupils with additional needs’.

Catering for the needs of pupils with a wide range of disabilities – from Autism spectrum disorder, and social, emotional and mental health issues, to physical disabilities – the 76-page guide, which can be downloaded for free, is designed for all teachers who teach food and nutrition to pupils with additional needs, whether they are in a mainstream schools or special educational needs schools.

While the UK’s different curricula and qualifications set out what children should be taught about food and nutrition, there is no other specific guidance on teaching food and nutrition to pupils with additional needs.

The guide has been developed by the British Nutrition Foundation’s Education Team – a group of specialists with expertise in food education, teaching and nutrition science – through consensus-building exercises with primary and secondary school practitioners, awarding organisations, initial teacher training providers, and experts in supporting pupils with additional needs across the UK.

Frances Meek, Senior Education officer, British Nutrition Foundation, comments: “It is essential for all children and young people to have good education on food and nutrition, so that they are equipped with the necessary skills to cook and feed themselves well and keep healthy. Practical work, like cooking, develops fine, gross and sensory skills and it can also provide social experiences and opportunities for pupils to develop skills for independent living and the world of work, especially within catering and hospitality. Our new guide defines the characteristics of good practice that are specific to teaching food and nutrition to pupils with additional needs, therefore supporting school communities to make a meaningful difference to the inclusion and progress of all pupils.”

The British Nutrition Foundation has worked in collaboration with a range of professional educators to exemplify how the characteristics in the guide can be put into practice.

Laura Kelly, a food and nutrition teacher at St Columbanus’ College in Bangor, Northern Ireland, explains why it’s critical for staff to fully understand and plan for an individual pupil’s learning and teaching needs: “As teachers, one of our most important roles is to know each of the pupils in our care. For me, as a food and nutrition teacher, it is important to set subject specific targets based on a pupil’s needs and to implement strategies or make adjustments to ensure inclusion in lessons. For example, this could mean lowering workbenches for a pupil that uses a wheelchair or purchasing adapted equipment, such as knives with angled handles. Knowing my pupils means that I can plan tailored lessons and ensure that, no matter what the topic, my pupils can achieve their full potential.This new guide is an invaluable resource for teachers as it clearly sets out what we need to aim for in terms of best practice for supporting pupils with additional needs.”

The new guide for pupils with additional needs follows two existing guides developed by the British Nutrition Foundation to support primary and secondary teachers to become even better teachers of food and nutrition. Since they were published in 2019 and 2020, the two resources have received over 3,600 downloads and nearly 2,000 teachers have registered to complete online professional development courses based on the guides. Identifying a gap in provision, the British Nutrition Foundation has subsequently developed this third guide to increase access for children and young people with additional needs.

The British Nutrition Foundation is a registered charity that delivers impartial, authoritative and evidence-based information on food and nutrition. The charity has 30 years of experience in supporting food and nutrition education in UK schools, through the Food – a fact of life education programme. In the past year, over 560,000 teachers have used the British Nutrition Foundation’s dedicated school website, downloading over 1.5 million resources. 1,114 teachers have also attended virtual training, workshops, conferences and webinars, through Food – a fact of life this year

Free training for teachers of pupils with additional needs will take place during May and June 2021 and pupil resources will also be available later in the year.

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