Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Great British Bake Off Mary Berry host told an audience she only took up cookery after being considered ‘too dim’ for academic subjects. She was sent to domestic science by teachers where she blossomed, she said. From there, a teacher praised her first efforts at making a treacle pudding and helped her develop her interest in cooking.
Now Mary Berry has said that all children should be taught to cook at least 10 full meals at school. Teachers should ‘blow the science of it’ and go back to showing young people ‘what’s good for them, how to buy it and how to make a few dishes that they enjoy and don’t cost too much’, she said.
When asked about the status of cookery teaching today, which can include lessons on nutrition and designing food packaging, she said: ‘Hopefully it’s coming back in schools. There is a drive for it to come back in schools and so there should be. But not in the form that it has been lately. It should be that every child when they leave school can do 10 meals, because when they leave home they’ve got to be able to eat healthily.’
Mary, 78, also paid her Great British Bake Off colleagues Mel and Sue a compliment about their skills in the kitchen during the festival.
Cookery has been long since falling away from the curriculum as a result of budgets being squeezed and kitchen spaces being replaced with classrooms to try and get more kids into the same school to deal with place shortages. If I’m honest the only thing I remember about cooking were after school lessons offered by our school chef in secondary school, making a cake in Year 7 and my Food Tech GCSE. 2 of those 3 were optional, ie I didn’t have to do those after school classes or the GCSE in Food Tech, I chose to take them. If I didn’t take them, I wouldn’t have the cooking knowledge I do possess. I personally think GCSE Food Technology should be compulsory in order to bring Mary’s idea into place. I do however think that the format of the GCSE needs to head more onto the practical side of cooking, rather than the heavy amount of coursework and an exam at the end to deal with. This is pretty much the contrary to how Michael Gove wants to change GCSEs and more like how the Scots are taking their exams forward.