Teacher resources

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In the New Zealand school curriculum, it’s expected that all children will have had the opportunity to learn practical cooking skills by the end of Year 8. Cooking meals and gathering as a family is a skill that’s proven in many cultures to be an essential ingredient for a healthy lifestyle. If we invest in developing basic cooking skills in our kids, it will set them up for life.

’Research carried out in 2016 showed there were large inconsistencies in what’s taught, how it’s taught and how much time is spent on the food curriculum across New Zealand. Using the 2016 study results, the Heart Foundation and vegetables.co.nz took a ‘by teachers, for teachers’ approach. We collaborated with teachers to develop new materials to meet curriculum requirements. 

As a result, we launched:

  • A year 8 Unit plan – including lesson plans and activities
  • A year 7 Unit plan – including lesson plans and activities
  • A year 7 and 8 health and PE lesson plan

Accompanying resources were also developed:

These educational resources were promoted to schools and food technology teachers. 

In 2020, a follow-up study aimed to determine whether there had been any changes to the teaching of foods skills to year 8 children. A total of 175 food technology and nutrition teachers from 165 schools responded to an online survey.

Over two-thirds of teachers reported using the food curriculum resources developed by the Heart Foundation and vegetables.co.nz in their classes. 69% of teachers from low decile schools and 62% of teachers from high decile schools reported using the resources.

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Since 2016, teachers reported an increase in teaching skills that relate to cooking a complete meal like mashing and stir-frying.

Since 2016 teachers reported cooking more dishes that contain vegetables like soup and less baked items like biscuits.

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When selecting recipes, the cooking time and cost of ingredients remain the top two factors considered by teachers. However, since 2016, nutrition and culture are the two factors that have seen the greatest increase.

Overall, the teachers found the resources acceptable for use in the classroom and they support students to try new foods and improve their confidence and cooking skills.

“There is a visible improvement with their cooking skills and confidence as each week progresses which is nice. Many are making the dishes at home after making them at school too."

— Food technology teacher trialling the unit plan

Future opportunities

Through the research, teachers identified the need for resources to be digitally interactive and for recipes to cater to broader dietary needs and for more emphasis on cultural recipes.

There is plenty to explore within these themes and the Heart Foundation continues to support vegetables.co.nz to work with teachers, the Home Economics and Technology Teachers Association New Zealand (HETTANZ) and the New Zealand Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling (NZAIMS) on professional development and promotion of the resources.

There were some limitations to the research being conducted during Auckland’s Covid-19 lockdown, however, there are plans to repeat the survey within the next 5 years.