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Characteristics of good practice in teaching food and nutrition education (secondary)


Teaching Courses


A practical guide to help teachers become better teachers.

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Developing professional competence
20 minutes
A characteristic of good practice is that subject specialist teachers are well qualified for their role.
Being an accomplished food teacher
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice is that staff have developed the knowledge, skills, effective pedagogy approaches and personal qualities that are important in food teaching.
Taking a whole school approach
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice is that the subject is aligned to a whole school food approach.
Teaching the curriculum
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice is that teaching should reflect the curriculum, with due regard to progression from prior learning.
Managing the subject
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice is that the subject is well managed and resourced, teaching areas are maintained, and the environment stimulates learning and an excitement for the subject.
Good food hygiene and safety practices
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice in secondary schools is that learners prepare and cook dishes, taste food and perform investigations hygienically and safely.
Food skill competency
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice in secondary schools is that learners can prepare, cook and serve a range of dishes with precision, hygienically and safely.
Food provenance know-how
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice is that learners demonstrate their understanding of food provenance, production and processing.
Nutrition proficiency
30 minutes
A characteristic of good practice in secondary schools is that learners apply their healthy eating and nutrition knowledge.
Consumer awareness
20 minutes
A characteristic of good practice in secondary schools is that learners demonstrate and apply their awareness of consumer preferences and the reasons for choices made.
Food science aptitude
20 minutes
A characteristic of good practice in secondary schools is that learners can apply their knowledge and understanding of food science in a practical and meaningful way.

Complete the course to access the final assessment.

Course details

This course sets out a series of characteristics of good practice, determined via consensus building exercises with the secondary school food teaching community from the UK, which can be adopted as part of a good practice approach by all those that teach food and nutrition. Each module has a downloadable 'check list' which has been designed for you to use to review and reflect on your practice, highlighting actions for the future - a useful tool for your own personal development. 

Scope and purpose

This course aims to:

  • define the key characteristics of good practice that are specific to teaching food and nutrition;
  • exemplify these characteristics of good practice in UK secondary schools;
  • highlight the key features of achieving these characteristics, showing how these can be put into practice, with teacher insights and suggestions of how to develop these for the future;
  • support the food and nutrition teaching community, especially trainee, newly qualified and non-food specialist teachers;
  • enable practising teachers to audit their own practice to plan and implement personal and professional development goals.

Characteristics of good practice 

There are 11 characteristics covered in this course:

  • Developing professional competence
  • Being an accomplished food teacher
  • Taking a whole school approach
  • Teaching the curriculum
  • Managing the subject
  • Good food hygiene and safety practices
  • Food skill competency
  • Food provenance know-how
  • Nutrition proficiency
  • Consumer awareness
  • Food science aptitude

For each of the 11 characteristics, five key features have been identified:

  1. Knowledge and skills: The knowledge and skills required by staff to deliver effective lessons and activities.
  2. Planning and implementing: The planning and implementation of learning, policies, procedures and processes.
  3. Resources, equipment and ingredients: The resources, equipment and ingredients required to support planned learning intent.
  4. Teaching and learning: The teaching and learning strategies that are undertaken, which enable learners to demonstrate and apply their knowledge and skills. 
  5. Assessment and impact: The assessment strategies that are implemented and monitored to assess learning impact, as well as teaching delivery.

Who is this for?

This course has been developed for a variety of audiences, specifically those that teach, or are training to teach, food and nutrition education in secondary schools throughout the UK. Key audiences are:

  • practising secondary school teachers, including non-food specialist teachers;
  • newly qualified teachers;
  • teacher trainer providers;
  • trainee secondary school teachers.

Note: It is acknowledged that terminology may be different around the UK, e.g. Schemes of Work may be known as Schemes of Learning or Teachers’ Guides.

How can it be used?

It is anticipated that this course can be used in a variety of ways, such as:

  • showcasing practice through defined characteristics;
  • encouraging consideration of other characteristics of good practice leading to further discussion and implementation;
  • promoting lifelong personal and professional development, helping individuals to audit their knowledge and skill-set;
  • developing the management of the subject
  • acknowledging the role of the teacher in the whole school approach to health and wellbeing.


The inspiration of this work was based on the 1996 publication Characteristics of good practice in food technology (Ofsted), which was produced to help schools implement food technology as part of the National Curriculum for Design and Technology in England. The work also builds on the Food teaching in secondary schools: a framework of knowledge and skills (PHE/DfE 2015), and the Food Teacher Professional Portfolio (FTPP) programme, which ran from 2015 to 2018 supporting professional development needs of secondary food teachers.  

While the curricula and qualifications around the UK set out what should be taught, and teacher trainers and professional development providers focus on themes such as pedagogy, class room management and resource provision, there is little in the way of a specific ‘guide’ to teaching modern food and nutrition in UK secondary schools.

In the past, this ‘guidance’ was often passed on through experienced teachers, local authority advisers and other experts. Now, with low levels of teachers being ‘food’ trained, fragmented support and non- food specialist teachers teaching in the classroom, we believed that there was a need to provide guidance and direction, and highlight key characteristics of good practice. It was also important that this ‘guidance’ was UK wide – while there are curricula differences, there are similarities with regard to professional competence, classroom management, and knowledge and skills. 


The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the All Saints Educational Trust for the production of this course. BNF would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the Food Teachers Centre. 

The content of the guide was developed through consensus workshops with: Adele Louise James, Whitefield School, England; Alison Stafford, Healthy Schools London; Brian Oppenheim, Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills; Diane McCrea, All Saints Educational Trust Dorothee Wagner, Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment; Elizabeth Tydeman, Public Health England; Frances Meek, British Nutrition Foundation; Heather Kettyle, Royal Enniskillen Grammar School, Northern Ireland; Jenny Elms, Consultant; Kate Hufton, Hornbeam Academy Trust, England; Liz Nicoll, Preston Lodge School, Scotland; Lloyd Henry, Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr, Wales; Louise Davies, Food Teachers Centre; Lucy Bolsover, Sheffield Hallam University; Roy Ballam, British Nutrition Foundation; and SueWood-Griffiths, University of Worcester.

We would also like to thank the following for providing photographs and case studies to demonstrate the characteristics of good practice: Adele Louise James, Whitefield School, England; Annette French, Valley Park School, England; Barbara Monks, The Cookery Teacher; Brindon Addy, J Brindon Addy Butchers, England; David Robertson, Dalkeith High School, Scotland; Emma-Jane Sinclair, Brookfield School, England; Food Teachers Centre; Heather Kettyle, Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, Northern Ireland; Jan Reynolds, Hornbeam Academy -; William Morris Campus, England; Jenine Turner, Chiltern Hills Academy, England; Karen Ryder, St Cenydd Community School, Wales; Laura Kelly, St Columbanus’ College, Northern Ireland; Liz Nicoll, Preston Lodge High School, Scotland; Lloyd Henry, Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr, Wales; Loretta Geisal, Holmfirth High School, England; Nikki Billingham, Invicta Grammar School, England; Rosalie Forde,Three Ways School, England; and Toni Munday, Cornwallis Academy, England.

Certification details

At the end of this course you will receive a personalised certificate of completion from the British Nutrition Foundation. 

This course is based on the Characteristics of good practice in teaching food and nutrition education in secondary schools publication (2019). 

For professional development purposes, this course supports: