Thursday 11 September 2008

Publishing Company Executives: “Score!!

It seems obesity is the problem du jour for the Schools Secretary (which, given the woeful standards of reading and writing, seems a bit skewed to say the least…), so Ed Balls announces his plan:
All 11-year-old schoolchildren are to receive a free cookbook under a new scheme aimed at promoting healthy eating and tackling obesity.
Yup, that’s worth doing, don’t you think? In an age when grinning Cockney chefs are never off the telly, gameshows based on cooking litter the daytime TV schedules, there’s two satellite TV channels dedicated solely to cookery shows, and everyone but the family dog has access to billions of recipes from all over the world on the Internet.

And I do believe, if you can wean the young ‘uns off Mario for long enough, there’s a even a Nintendo resource for the budding young Jamie out there.

But no, it’s not enough that all those free resources are out there for the taking, people aren’t choosing them at a rate that satisfies this lost, fumbling, meddlesome government, and so the schools must do their bit in indoctrinating the latest fad:
It will be given to all 11-year-olds in England as part of a package of measures announced by Schools Secretary Ed Balls, who urged parents to get their children, especially boys, into the kitchen at home.

More than £150 million has been earmarked to build new teaching kitchens in schools and Mr Balls said the funding paves the way for compulsory cooking lessons for pupils aged 11 to 14, which are due to be introduced for the first time from 2011.

The funding drive will see £750,000 earmarked for training and recruiting 800 new specialist teachers.
£150..million…! Words fail me.

Still, publishing executives and kitchen fitters need to eat too, I suppose….


Ross said...

So the question is whether Ed Balls is so stupid that he genuinely believes that a free cooking book will do anything to solve obesity or whether he is so cynical that he's willing to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to present himself as someone who cares about the children.

Ross said...

Hang on I've just read the article and it is clearly motivated by cynicism:

- Faux populism "The cookbook features 32 recipes put forward by the public"

- Celebrity chef.

- Looking out for the kidz.

- Subtle reminder that he doesn't want to bring back 'Home Economics' in it's old sexist form "especially boys"

So there you have it, Ed Balls is not simply a bulging eyed, hyper partisan, Gordon Brown lackey. He's a sophisticated modern politician who hangs around with celebrities, who values family life but not in an old fashioned way and yet is still in touch with the people.

He's still going to get sacked by whoever replaces Brown.

Anonymous said...

It's the thought of the 800 'specialist' teachers that they plan to recruit that got me. Are they saying the ones they already have can't be taught to pass on cooking skills?

And where's the time coming from to squeeze in these extra lessons? What's going to get the chop? Bet it isn't 'social studies'...

Anonymous said...

Brilliant plan this...

Let's get the kids into kitchens with lots of sharp knives.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, yes, you're right.

It does have the potential to resolve some pressing issues, doesn't it? ;)

Tomrat said...

I would hope the many chemistry teachers in most science faculties could at least tie a few ingredients together; I know it may have been a while since they could perform actual organic chemical reactions for demonstration but as I remember my chemistry degree this was something you dont forget easily - the hard stuff certainly but the easy, never.

Letters From A Tory said...

Forcing children to have cooking lessons? I don't think it's really worth giving up time for science, languages and learning to read and write for this rubbish.

Anonymous said...

Sprog's just done the cookery course, and I say this with venom - it should be me that gets the certificate. I was on the edge of sending an invoice for my time, never mind a request for a gold star.

This is how school cookery works. They have inadequate refridgeration by modern standards, so nothing involving meat can be done anyway.

They have little time for the preparation and clearing up, so that mostly has to be done at home. Plus, the teachers hate issuing the knives, because they have to check them in and out and it takes ages. Also, the ovens are hot so any excuse not to turn them on is welcomed.

All recipies involve combinations of: wheat (flour or pasta)/cheese/tomato puree/sugar/marg/onion/egg.

Each ingredient to be weighed out by the parent and provided in a sealed container. Milk is a bastard, garlic more so - especially when nobody here likes garlic.

Quorn will be requested at one point and refused. A tearful teenager will demand a note to Miss, who will get snotty when told not to promote branded proteins at four times the cost of other available ingredients.

All onions to be chopped at home by parent. Parent to provide inconvenient range of containers, which you can bet she doesn't already have.

Child to assemble prepared ingredients at school in the ten minutes left after all the sodding around, then bring macaroni cheese, cheese & onion pasty etc. home so the parent can cook them. Only fairy cakes are cooked in school. They are eaten on the bus. The bus driver will then complain about the crumbs. Ungrateful bastard - at least he got offered a bun.

Oh, sorry, political comment. The thing about 'compulsory' is a false trail. Most schools have it on the crafts carousel because they aren't stupid; a great number of their pupils may wish to go in to catering of one sort or another. The top end may become food technologists, the rest could be doing anything from burger flipping to getting Michelin stars - you just can't tell which ones are going to find this important and which ones will survive so long as the world contains baked beans and a tin opener.

With JuliaM; if teachers aren't already teaching cookery properly, they should be sacked and replaced with extra maths, who also won't teach cookery but will at least attempt to pass on something useful.

Anonymous said...

"They have inadequate refridgeration by modern standards, so nothing involving meat can be done anyway."

Well, at least it isn't to spare the feelings of vegetarians! Yet...

"Each ingredient to be weighed out by the parent and provided in a sealed container."

They pay you to buy this for the lesson, though...? *hollow laugh*

"bring macaroni cheese, cheese & onion pasty etc. home so the parent can cook them"

Why use the school's gas or electric power, when the parents will do it for free..?

I have to say, that is NOTHING like my 'domestic science' classes - the school provided all ingredients, we did all our own preparation (and washing up!) and we cooked on the school premises. The parents were only required to eat our efforts. :)

Mind you, things get even worse when you get to creative writing class...

Anonymous said...

Of course this all presumes the kids can read the book!!!!!!!!!!!!!