Before I tell you why we've set up this course, I just want to let you know that taking Home Cooking Skills will teach you to cook great food that tastes amazing, saves money and, in the long run, will help you lead a happier, healthier life.
Cooking is, without a doubt, one of the most important skills a person can ever learn and share. Once someone has that knowledge, that's it - they're set for life.
My dream is to see everyone cooking good food from scratch and learning new ways to get creative in the kitchen. But the truth is we're still a long way from that becoming reality. As a nation, we've reached a point where the lack of food knowledge and cooking skills is having a really negative impact on our health and life expectancy. To cut a long story short, for the first time in history, younger generations are expected to live shorter lives than their parents, because of poor diet and a lack of food skills.
I've always believed that the key to tackling these big problems lies in the kitchen. In 2005, during my School Dinners campaign, I asked the government to improve school food and make cooking skills compulsory for all kids. Eight years on and school food is improving. The government has recently announced, as a result of the School Food Plan, that cooking will be compulsory for primary and early secondary school pupils. This is a move in the right direction, but more needs to be done to bring food education to life, which is why my team and I developed the Home Cooking Skills course.
In 2010, together with Edexcel and Pearson, we created Home Cooking Skills Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications. They are hands-on courses that help students develop the essential skills they need to cook simple, nutritious, affordable food. This is about real food, for real life. No nonsense.
We started this course because we wanted to get fun and easy-to-teach cooking skills into the school environment, and inspire students and their teachers. I wanted it to be relevant to modern-day life, using ingredients that are readily available in your average supermarket. Cooking was such a happy, positive part of my childhood and I honestly don't know where I would be today without it. It's massively important to me to get that same enjoyment and sense of achievement across to kids so they stay excited and want to keep cooking and learning about food.
Home Cooking Skills is so much more than a qualification: it's a way to share a critical life skill with as many people as possible. This is a chance to arm students with sensible, practical knowledge that they can take into the world and actually use. Whether they're having a party, cooking for mates, feeding their future children or making lunch, they'll be fending for themselves, saving money and using these skills every day for the rest of their lives.
We've really focused on the recipes and the idea of students learning through cooking, and this is what I believe makes the course so different from others. To guide you through the qualifications, every single recipe is backed up by step-by-step photography, useful fact sheets and web links. Plus we've got loads of videos and images focusing on specific skills and even a few fun activity sheets.
Since the qualification was introduced over two years ago, more than 33,000 students have taken the qualification and the number is continuing to grow - Home Cooking Skills is one of the most popular BTEC courses available across the country. We are incredibly proud of this course and are as passionate as ever about getting young people cooking. So please get stuck in and enjoy it!
Jamie O xxx
The technical bit - from the Edexcel team
Jamie's Home Cooking Skills provides the ideal opportunity to begin teaching cooking skills in your centre or to accredit teaching that already takes place.
Consists of two single unit BTEC qualifications at Level 1 and Level 2
Both qualifications are fully funded on the QCF and contribute to Performance Points
Free online Teacher Support Materials will accompany the course. They have been designed with teacher-ease in mind. They are user-friendly enough for those teachers without a home economics qualification to be able to teach, while at the same time providing exciting content for more experienced teachers and those who already have a good knowledge of food and cooking.
|Level 1||Contributes to Foundation Learning provision||Focuses on giving young people the skills to prepare delicious and nutritious home-cooked food - using fresh ingredients - as well as an understanding of the value of passing on cooking knowledge|
|Level 2||Equivalent to half a GCSE||Develops the student's ability to plan and prepare a series of nutritious home-cooked meals for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner, and helps them understand how to cook economically|
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It's taken a lot of people to get this project off the ground so I have to do a few thank yous. Over the past 10 years, I've worked closely with the brilliant team at Penguin on all of my books, and I've picked out and adapted a lot of my favourite recipes from these to use on the course. The recipes are at the heart of the qualification so a massive shout out to all you lovely lot at Penguin for letting me do this.
David Loftus and Chris Terry have kindly allowed me to use loads of their beautiful photography throughout the course so a big thank you to them. Big thanks also to Matt Russell for shooting loads of extra step-by-step pictures.
Visually, we couldn't have done this without the fantastic design talent of Interstate who've helped us to create the whole Home Cooking Skills identity. Thanks also to The Plant design girls for putting a lot of the content together, to Peter Hamilton for the illustrations, and to Matt Shaw and Matt Russell for all the nifty editing in the video section.
Obviously big, big thanks have to go to the team at Edexcel for making this qualification possible. To Ian, Wendy, Richard and all of the guys who've offered us support and guidance along the way, thank you, we couldn't have done it without you.
And finally, thanks as ever to my wonderful team at the office for the huge amount of work you've put into this. To my amazing food team, word girls and web team, I know you've all worked ridiculously hard on this, so thank you. I won't list names here, but you know who you are and how much I appreciate all the work you've done.