A third (33%) of teachers do not know where to go for information on food, farming and healthy eating practices, according to YouGov research commissioned by AHDB.
Teachers said that they were most likely to turn to organisations, which are not specialist in the area, such as the Times Educational Supplement, BBC Bitesize or simply Googling for information in the absence of clear authoritative sources.
To cut through confusion and help accurate information reach classrooms; food, farming and education experts have created new guidelines for teachers and educational stakeholders to follow.
AHDB director of communications Christine Watts, said: “The research findings have helped us to create new guidelines, giving us a clearer understanding of teacher’s needs and the challenges they face when teaching kids about food, farming and nutrition.
“The research suggests that around two thirds of teachers believe they do know where to go for information, and they have a strong appetite to help our next generation to learn about food, farming and healthy eating.
“To take the burden off time-pressed teachers’ shoulders, we’ve worked with our industry and education experts, creating a checklist to empower teachers and those who produce content for schools, so they have confidence on the accuracy and integrity of information which is shared with young people.”
The new guidelines form part of a three-year strategic partnership between AHDB and the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).
Roy Ballam, managing director and head of education at the BNF is also a trained secondary teacher.
He said: “Childhood obesity is a major public health concern and in this context, it’s important that teachers can share accurate information with young people, enabling them to make healthy food choices, cook balanced dishes and understand where their food comes from.
“With so much conflicting advice on food and health, the new guidelines are simple. They’ve been reviewed by teachers, farmers, nutritionists and exam bodies – I believe they’ll help teachers to have confidence in creating, using and sharing consistent, accurate information about diet and nutrition.”
A thorough consultation was carried out as the guidelines were produced, taking feedback from the NFU, LEAF, Public Health England, practicing teachers and awarding bodies.
“We have highlighted that inaccurate information on British farming has been shared in schools,” said Joshua Payne, NFU education manager. “Children absorb so much at a young age and the new guidelines should help support children learning the truth about British farming and food from an early age.”
LEAF also works with organisations across the farming and education sectors.
Carl Edwards managing director and head of education at LEAF, said: “We know there’s a gap in knowledge with our next generation, which is why getting people out on farms really helps to inspire learning. After visiting, we need schools to continue to fuel that knowledge and share accurate facts. I believe the new guidelines will help teachers use correct information to better connect young people with their food and the farming environment.”