Experts have welcomed the Government's plans to put cooking on the school curriculum from 2008.
The proposals, put forward by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) on Monday, state that hands-on experience of cooking simple, healthy meals from basic ingredients should be the focus of food technology lessons in schools. They form part of the Government's wider efforts to curb childhood obesity.
Committing to give every secondary school pupil an entitlement to be taught cooking from 2008, Education Secretary Alan Johnson said: "Cooking is an essential life skill, something all young people will eventually have to do day in, day out. It's also a vital part of tackling obesity. I want kids rolling their sleeves up and actually getting to grips with preparing simple, healthy meals from scratch."
With role models such as Jamie Oliver "there is no reason that we can't get more kids cooking both in school and out of school", Johnson added.
Prue Leith, chair of the School Food Trust, welcomed the announcement. "At long last we are beginning to realise that learning to cook is an important skill every child should acquire, as vital a life skill as learning to read and write," she said.
"This week's announcement will end the anomaly of school-based food classes frequently being devoid of hands-on cooking lessons. With luck, it will create the momentum for ensuring in the years to come all children leave school with at least basic cooking skills and a love of good food."
The proposals formed part of the QCA's curriculum review, which is open to national consultation until the end of April, before ministers are asked to give the final go-ahead in June.
By Emily Manson