The newly introduced GCSE in food preparation aims to equip teenagers with advanced culinary skills and knowledge to excel in the food industry. The course covers everything from basic cooking techniques such as portioning a chicken, filleting a fish, and making sauces, to advanced skills such as marinating, blanching, frying, and braising. Apart from cooking, pupils will also learn about the relationship between diet, nutrition, and health, and will gain knowledge about food labelling, poisoning, security, and provenance.
Students will be expected to master knife skills and the preparation of garnishes, as well as the difference between their jus and roux, and the finer details of dextrinisation and gas-in-air foam. The GCSE will be taught from the following academic year, and the course consists of half practical assessments and a theoretical examination, intended to help students understand the scientific principles that underlie the preparation and cooking of food.
Although there were concerns raised during the government consultation that the course would be too demanding for teenagers, many chefs and experts welcomed the new qualification and described it as comprehensive and thorough. Concerns were also raised about the content of the new RS GCSE, especially with regards to lacking a non-religious world view. It was, however, confirmed that students will be taught two of the world’s major religions and gain insight into their themes and beliefs.
The GCSE in food preparation is thought to be a positive step in food education within the country, and there is hope that it will encourage more students to pursue careers in the food industry, which has increasingly been seen as a viable career option.
The Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, Andrew Copson, expressed his disappointment towards the revised qualifications that largely exclude humanism. Although some aspects of the updated qualifications are inclusive, the absence of humanism is a major setback. As younger generations become less religious than the previous ones, including humanism in the qualifications is imperative. Copson stated that only the Conservative faction of the coalition government opposes the incorporation of humanism.