Annex 6: Food for Thought Fund - Education Scotland
Background to the project
374. This section provides background information to the Food for Thought Fund. It describes how the project came to life, discusses the project's aims, outcomes and budget.
375. Launched in May 2013, it was created to support food education related projects involving partnerships between schools and the food and drink industry. The projects were meant to have a relevant cultural context (such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games or Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015).
376. £1 million was made available for applications of up to a maximum of £5,000 per individual project. This limit was raised for applications from clusters. Additional funding was provided to Education Scotland in partnership with Scottish Business in the Community ( SBC) to manage the project.
377. Schools were required to identify and work in partnership with a local business to enhance the project and to consider how to link their activities to major events. In order to support schools in developing relationships with industry, a partnership between Education Scotland and SBC was created, with additional funding provided for that purpose.
Project aims and outcomes
378. The overall aim of the project was to:
Support practitioners to build on existing practice in food education.
379. Specifically, the outcomes of the project were defined as:
- Increased knowledge and skills of staff around food education
- Sustained partnership working within the learning community to enhance food education for children and young people
- A shared understanding of the progression of learning in food education from early to fourth level
- Assessment approaches, reporting and profiling in food education are developed and shared
- Exemplars of practice are developed, piloted, evaluated and shared
380. £1 million was made available from the Scottish Government. Additional funds were given to Education Scotland (£120,000) in partnership with Scottish Business in the Community (£93,440) to manage the project. Therefore a total of £1,213,440 was provided to the project by the Scottish Government, over a two year period starting from 2013.
Progress on project delivery
381. Progress on project delivery, was assessed using information gathered from various data provided, which included:
- Individual projects' progress against targets set by the Scottish Government
- Individual projects' achievement of project aims
- Feedback on challenges faced
- Feedback from the target populations on successful delivery and satisfaction
- Identification of characteristics/features of successful projects
382. It should be noted that the Food for Thought Fund only started to report during Year 2 of the FEP, as a result, their first reporting year was the second year of the overall FEP.
Attainment of Scottish Government targets
383. From reports provided by the project coordinator, the Food for Thought Fund appeared to have achieved its targets, particularly in the following areas:
- Quality Assurance. Employability was a key focus within Education Scotland's work to support and quality assure the delivery of education. To support this, Education Scotland worked closely with business organisations and their members to ensure that their work was underpinned by an understanding of industry's needs and expectations. During Phase 1, 176 businesses worked with schools. This increased to 284 businesses during Phase 2.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths ( STEM). Another target related to a focus on STEM to support the development of Scotland's Young Workforce. Overall 36% of schools involved in Phase 1 used the Science of Food as a context for learning. This increased significantly at Phase 2 with 78% of schools using science of food as a context for learning.
384. Other targets set by the Scottish Government related to engaging businesses and partners, launching the Fund, organising and leading on each round of funding applications, promotion of the fund and disbursement and support of funded projects. All of these targets were consistently met.
Achievement of project aims
385. Objective #1: Increased knowledge and skills of staff around food education. The project coordinator supported by the Food and Health Development Officer created a wide range of resources for teachers alongside CPD and other learning events. From self-reported feedback, the project appeared to have had a positive impact in this respect.
386. Objective #2: Sustained partnership working with the learning community to enhance food education for children and young people. The project was heavily involved in promoting partnership working with all other food education partners including Seafood in Schools, Chefs@School, Crofting Connections, SFDF and Science in the Menu among others.
387. Objective #3: A shared understanding of the progression of learning in food education from early to fourth level. Education Scotland produced progression frameworks along with significant aspects of learning in food education. This was done in consultation with practitioners and as a result of the knowledge gained through Food for Thought and other food projects.
388. Objective #4: Assessment approaches, reporting and profiling in food education are developed and shared. On-going objective to be achieved during schools year 2015-16.
389. Objective #5: Exemplars of practice are developed, piloted, evaluated and shared. The project was very active in collecting information on best practice and sharing this knowledge among schools. Informative sessions were organised during each Phase to ensure that schools took on board all the learning and applied it in their respective settings.
390. Overall, the Food for Thought Fund achieved all of its project aims while ensuring that schools/teachers felt supported by offering advice, help with establishing business links as well as a producing and distributing a wide range of learning resources.
391. The project was started and developed over the course of the FEP. As such most challenges faced related to the problems associated with starting a big project: balancing resources, developing partnerships, creating new learning materials, managing expectations, promoting the project and ultimately ensuring that funded schools were on board with the overall aim of the project and were delivering against its objectives.
392. Some other specific challenges reported by the project were:
- Making the money accessible to schools. Local Authorities were in many cases very slow in releasing the funds for various reasons, including in some instances personnel changes. There was the perception that both Local Authorities and schools would have preferred Education Scotland to distribute the funding directly.
- Complexity of paperwork resulted in delays. Local Authorities were required to complete all the forms for funding to be released to schools. In many cases, the paperwork was returned incomplete or incorrectly and had to be send back for revision. During that process which in some instances took several months to complete, schools had to wait to access their funding.
- Procurement procedures at schools. Many schools were only able to order materials through the Local Authority's approved suppliers. This proved challenging for example when schools wanted to purchase poly tunnels or cookers. This process resulted in schools spending more money than they would have done had they been able to go to other less expensive retailers directly.
- Keeping to timescales. The timescales for completing the projects were tight as money had to be spent by the end of December. Many schools asked for extensions to that deadline due to the challenges listed above. This was more evident on outdoor growing projects. Additionally, the winter weather added to the delay in some cases.
393. For SBC, one of the most significant challenges was around establishing business links with schools. For many schools it was their first time collaborating with industry and as such support was needed to manage the relationship and expectations from both ends.
Feedback from target populations
394. Successful applicants were asked to provide a progress report on how the funding was eventually used and the impact it had on pupils and the school as a whole.
395. The vast majority of teachers (98%) during Phase 1 of the Food for Thought Fund  found the support received from Education Scotland either very useful (73%) or useful (25%). Particularly, teachers valued:
- Having a point of contact who could guide schools through the process from start to finish
- Hosting a support event to allow schools to network, share ideas and meet partners who could support them
- Regular updates and signposting to support, websites or other relevant training
396. Furthermore, nearly all teachers who replied to the survey (98%) had the impression that learners, staff and local community benefitted from the project.
397. Many schools used funding to create a growing garden to enhance knowledge around seasonality, outdoor learning, physical activity, growing food, harvesting, using the food they had grown for practical cooking experiences, sharing food as a community, understanding issues around local food and sustainability.
398. Teachers believed that providing a context for learning proved meaningful for children and improved the curricular mapping of schools. In some cases teaching staff appeared more actively involved in ensuring that food education was included in interdisciplinary planning.
399. Additionally, Scottish Business in the Community ( SBC) undertook an evaluation through 'surveymonkey' to monitor feedback of businesses. The response rate was very low, and no robust conclusions could be drawn from it. However, the general feeling was one of positivity and encouragement towards the project.
Key features of success
400. In the short life of the project, it managed to establish itself as one of the main contributors to the overall FEP outcomes.
401. The project had not only a nationwide reach, but also covered early learning centres, primary and secondary schools. Furthermore, it engaged with a significant proportion of schools in the most deprived areas.
402. Industry was engaged and asked for continuous support and involvement. In fact, 176 businesses during the first year and 286 during the second year engaged with the project. Withdrawal rates were reported by the project to be only minimal.
403. The setup of the project allowed schools flexibility to adapt to their specific needs and the utilisation of initiatives such as the Commonwealth Games, Homecoming Scotland or the Year of Food and Drink were highly welcome and appreciated.
404. The success of the project is evident from the growth of pupil opportunities from the first phase (in Year 2 of FEP) to the second phase (in Year 3 of FEP).
405. Furthermore, there was a very high level of uptake of the resources developed, particularly the online information.
406. Albeit only based on self-reported data, the project also appeared to have had an impact on learning and behaviour.
Progress on Programme Outcomes
407. This section focuses on the impact that the Food for Thought Fund has had on the wider FEP outcomes of Opportunities, Embeddedness, Investment and Learning and Behaviour Change. Each outcome is discussed in turn.
408. This section reports on progress towards the overall programme outcome: Opportunities to learn about food are provided to young people.
409. Since the project launched around 28,400 opportunities for children to learn about food have been created: of these, 2,250 were among early learners, 20,650 with primary learners and 5,500 with secondary learners.
410. Furthermore, the potential number of parents/carers engaged was estimated at around 5,400 since the project started.
411. While during its first year, the project reached 232 schools, this nearly doubled during the second year to a total of 411 schools engaged via the project.
412. A brief detail of progress year on year is shown below:
Table 26: Food for Thought Fund Opportunities created over time
|Year 2 2013-14||Year 3
|Number of opportunities for children to learn about food||n/a||9,623||18,769|
|…of which early learners||533||1,723|
|…of which primary learners||6,274||14,366|
|…of which secondary learners||2,815||2,680|
|Number of schools reached||232||411|
413. Across the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD)  45% of the funding for Phase 1 (equating to Year 2 of the FEP) and 32% of the funding for Phase 2 (equating to Year 3 of the FEP) went to the two most deprived areas of Scotland. Details of spread below:
Table 27: Food for Thought Fund - SIMD spread
2012-13 % of fund
|Year 2 2013-14
% of fund
2014-15 % of fund
414. Coverage of the project was spread across 29 local authorities. Overall, the project managed to obtain nationwide reach, although proportionately it had a more concentrated presence in the Central Belt. The map below shows reach of the project over time.
Image 7: Food for Thought geographical coverage
415. The following indicators were identified as appropriate to measure progress towards the Embeddedness outcome: number and range of food education CPD events, number of teachers attending CPD events regarding food, feedback from CPD (or other events)indicating positive impacts on learning, enthusiasm and confidence and resources - range, availability and feedback on use.
416. Following the completion of each phase, Education Scotland administered a survey among participating teachers and analysed the responses. The key findings directly linked to the Embeddedness outcome were:
- Where schools took the opportunity to plan projects collectively, staff felt this made planning to deliver food education more manageable. By exploring food as a context they were also able to plan for delivering much more than just the food and health experiences and outcomes
- Confidence was raised when funding allowed staff opportunities to attend appropriate training to increase the knowledge and skills to deliver food education
- Teachers believed that the Food for Thought resources helped them to increase their capacity and confidence in delivering food education
- Teachers believed that projects involving hands-on activities were more likely to have a greater impact on pupils engagement and understanding
417. Education Scotland developed several resources to support the food industry as a focus for learning and career choice. This included, for example, material on the Scottish Food Industry and information on Principles for a Partnership Approach for the Food and Drink Industry and other related organisations working with schools. On top of this, Education Scotland's website was continuously updated.
418. The Education Scotland Development Officer for the Food for Thought Fund focused on developing and distributing resources and materials, as well as training opportunities for teachers and/or practitioners.
419. In fact, through the project a wide range of teachers were provided with learning opportunities. During the first year of life, 468 teaching staff were reached via CPD or other learning events. This increased to 1,265 during the second year.
420. A wide range of resources were developed and warmly received by teachers. During the second year of the project's life (Year 3 of the FEP), 77% of teachers that responded said they used at least one of Education Scotland Food for Thought support materials to deliver the project. Details on the usage of each specific material are displayed below:
Table 28: Food For Thought - Usage of resources
||Year 3 2014-15
|Used any ( NET)||77|
|- Mind map poster||70|
|- Using Food as a context for learning across the curriculum leaflet||69|
|- The way we grow and catch our food in Scotland||55|
|-Food and Health Skills Support resource||49|
|-Scottish Food and Health||48|
|- The Scottish Food industry||30|
421. Another outcome of the programme was in regards to the level of investment generated from industry.
422. The level of investment generated by the Food for Thought Fund was estimated at £300,000 during its first year of life. This remained fairly steady during the second year of the project at £297,000. However, the total number of businesses engaged with schools increased by 61%, from 176 businesses in Year 2 to 284 in Year 3. Details are provided below:
Table 29: Food for Thought - Investment
|Year 2 2013-14||Year 3
|Number of businesses engaged with schools||n/a||176||284|
|Value of in-kind contributions||£300,000||£297,000|
|Total amount granted to schools||£358,618||£644,000|
423. Following Year 3, 76% of those who replied to the survey (83% response rate), said that they found the support from Scottish Business in the Community ( SBC) useful. Although it should be noted that SBC was not always needed. Many schools had already established business links and did not require any further support. Furthermore, some schools kept contact details from previous years and continued working on their own once they felt more confident on how to approach this. Among those who felt the need to use SBC, feedback was overwhelmingly positive  .
Learning and Behaviour Change
424. The two last outcomes of the programme are in relation to learning and behaviour change: Knowledge and awareness regarding food has increased; and Positive change in attitudes/intention/ behaviour regarding food issues, food choices and career options.
425. An overall majority of schools (100% during Year 2 and 98% during Year 3) reported that learners, staff and local community benefitted from the project.
426. Many schools used funding to create a growing garden, which teachers believed to enhance knowledge around seasonality, outdoor learning, physical activity, growing food, harvesting, using the food they had grown for practical cooking experiences, sharing food as a community and understanding issues around local food and sustainability.
427. Through the Food for Thought Fund, schools were able to enhance partnership working e.g. linking Eco Schools, Keep Scotland Beautiful, physical activity, community, NHS Health Scotland and other partners.
428. All projects benefitting from the fund were asked to link their activity to a relevant cultural context, such as Commonwealth Games or Homecoming Scotland. 92% during Year 2 and 96% during Year 3 of schools reported that engaging with these events added value to their projects. The most common linkages during Year 1 were made towards 2014 Commonwealth Games and during Year 3 towards Year of Food and Drink.
429. Teachers reported that providing food as a context for learning had proven meaningful for children and improved the curricular mapping of schools.
430. In some cases, it is reported that the Food for Thought Fund teaching staff appeared more actively involved in ensuring that food education was included in interdisciplinary planning.
431. Self-reported data hints towards a positive change in terms of attitudes towards food in general and careers in the sector specifically. There was no data recorded in respect to intention/change of behaviour as a result of participating in the Food for Thought Fund.
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