Exploring Food and Nutrition for Key Stage 3
By Joe Mann - Food Teacher Centre Associate

First out of the block with the release of a Key Stage 3 (KS3) book that aims to lay the foundations for a stronger Food Preparation and Nutrition (FPN) GCSE at Key Stage 4 (KS4).

This book is clearly laid out, well-structured and easy to follow. Despite being the first of such KS3 books it is evident that a great deal of time and effort has gone into creating a teaching aid that not only aims to give an overarching look into the new syllabus but aims to support teaching and learning at KS3 in preparation for the new FPN GCSE.

When I received my copy of the new book, it was clear from just the listed topics in the Contents pages that the authors were aiming for a clearly recognisable transition into KS4 (in fact you would be forgiven from believing this was a FPN KS4 book from just reading the Contents list of topics). The next thing the eagle eyed of you might notice, upon initially opening up the book is that the publishers have listened to you all, and they have learnt from Food Teachers Centre feedback of the past with the inclusion of new tools such as a valuable quick reference glossary (used by other publishers but not found in the original KS4 FPN Hodder Education books). 

Top marks go to the publishers for readily implementing this proven classroom technique of listening to ‘What Works Well’ and adapting either their own strategies or adopting new strategies from others in this book.  Examples of this approach can be seen within the first five pages where you will find not only familiar Hodder Education KS4 FPN book tools that have worked well but also the inclusion of teaching and learning tools that you might recognise have worked well from other publishers of KS4 FPN books. So, alongside the short, knowledge-based style testing questions for each topic that you might recognise called here ‘knowledge check’ you’ll also find in this a book hands-on learning tool for every topic that supports the kinaesthetic learner called ‘In practice’ (a teaching tool made popular by another publisher in their KS4 FPN book). This tool gives students the opportunity to try a practical food making skills challenge that reinforces the learning beyond a theory lesson. Not only does this give students the chance to apply the subject matter learnt to a real-life situation, that they can relate to, but this tool can easily be used as part of home learning by the teacher or can be developed for an additional practical cooking lesson.
Another example of listening to ‘what works well’ is that the book offers students the successful and familiar ‘Activities’ sections throughout that you may recognise worked well from the previous Hodder Education KS4 FPN books to improve student’s learning chances further. This tool provides an array of theory learning activities for each of the different topics to help the students knowledgeable understanding of each topic in an interactive way. However, what you may not recognise from previous Hodder Education KS4 FPN books is the Keyword explanation tools. In my last review of the Hodder Education KS4 FPN books I commented that the highlighted Keywords in the text would benefit from also being highlighted in a separate information tool box with a brief explanation like the other publishers had done. Again, Hodder Education to their credit have listened and they have done just this for this KS3 book.

Then there are some new teaching tools not seen in the KS4 books for FPN. One of these is the ‘find out more’ teaching tool challenge for every topic which is a wonderful, welcome addition. It is there to build confidence in their learning, give ideas and suggestions about different ways of learning and encouraging subject knowledge learning beyond the classroom as well as utilising IT and social media.

In its appearance this KS3 Hodder Education book has broken a little from the previous Hodder Education KS4 FPN books in style being more colourful in an effort to be slightly more engaging and attractive for a younger KS3 audience. The result is slightly less austere in layout with less formal, softer fonts and brighter colours, while the actual layout remains clear solid, sound, and simple throughout. All the different learning tools mentioned are conveniently located in new individual learning boxes at the end of each topic and are bright colourful, attractive and illustrated which will be a good for visual learners. As with the Hodder Education KS4 FPN books this book follows a useful simple colour coded format throughout and the colour coded nature of the tool learning boxes throughout make it easy to quickly find the type of teaching tool that is required for both teachers and students.
While it could be argued that some the theoretical content of each topic is a bit deep and involved for a state KS3 student, any long-winded wordiness is, like the KS4 FPN books, punctured by bullet points and highlighted key words. Each key word highlighted in this way stands out as a helpful hint towards the important words that need learning and saves the condensed information from appearing too overwhelming. What the book aims to do is cram a whole topic into one or two pages, I can see how the condensed, dense nature of facts could appear overwhelming, but I think it is a forgivable criticism to aim higher at KS3 (and obviously each topic will be visited in far greater detail come KS4). There is a superior level of knowledge on offer for KS3, and in places the level of terminology to explain the knowledge is perhaps more than is needed at KS3, but it comes across in an explanatory way rather than in a way that might risk alienating your students, in fact the tone throughout is explanatory and informative. 
Given the extent of theory put into a KS3 book the publishers have opted for a middle ground in volume of pages. It is not as expansive as a Collins FPN KS4 book, but neither is it as condensed as a CGP FPN KS4 book.

What might you expect from a Hodder Education GCSE book (even if it’s a KS3) that you might not find? Well, don’t expect the tick box system to track learning progress found in the KS4 GCSE books, but I don’t feel it is needed given that this is a book written to allow you to delve in and out of topics that you think need greater focus at KS3.

What you do get is all the theory you might possibly need (and more) for one complete KS3 theory lesson with each and every topic chapter of this Hodder Education KS3 book. However, where the real value of this book lies is in all the valuable learning tools found in all the different learning tool boxes that make up nearly half of each topic chapter of this Hodder Education KS3 book. It has the ‘keyword’ tool box of key vocabulary to be learnt that lesson; the lesson ‘activity’ tool box of your class individual or group activity to be completed in the lesson; the ‘knowledge check’ tool box to monitor and measure your students learning in the lesson (excellent for ‘exit cards’); the ‘find out more’ tool box for extension or related home learning tasks and finally the related practical cooking task for the following lesson in the ‘in practice’ tool box. In essence, you have all the ingredients you might need for a ready to use KS3 FPN theory lesson. In providing a single lessons worth of teaching material I was left thinking the only thing missing is a written learning objective heading introduction to each topic chapter that you do get in the KS4 FPN books, but I guess you can’t have everything (and in fairness I can’t see how you might squeeze this in anyway).
You will find this is a book that is very much written with the Food Teacher of every ability in mind, with valuable topic chapter learning toolboxes alongside detailed and comprehensive subject matter. Whether you are a non-specialist or NQT looking at how to construct a lesson or a seasoned Head of Department who needs enough ready-made material to put together a cover lesson, the more you go through this book, the more it is apparent that it is comprehensive; so comprehensive as a KS3 theory book that it could even be used to deliver KS4 FPN theory for those lower ability students who are struggling (it even includes two topic chapters on how to create time plans). Having said this, it is a KS3 theory book and I’m delighted to say that this means it even includes a topic chapter on naming the parts of an oven and how to wash up properly! Other aspects of this book I particularly like are the new ‘find out more’ toolboxes mentioned in more detail above. These are a risky gamble, given how often we see websites updated, but it is a gamble that I’m glad Hodder Education has made as the website links to platforms like YouTube give us modern and relevant extension tasks that students already enjoy using (in particular the ones in Chapter 7.7, 7.8, and 7.9). 
As I’ve said this is a theory KS3 FPN book and as such in the whole 136 pages you will only see evidence of two recipes. This not a recipe book, but the book does provide a vast range of related suggested practical activities: from basic skills for Year 7’s through to more advanced techniques for Year 9’s (and all these suggested practical activities are designed with 50-minute lesson in mind)*. What this book is, is a clearly laid out, well-structured and easy to follow comprehensive companion. It’s a teaching aid which aims to give you and your students an overarching look at the new syllabus to support teaching and learning at KS3 in preparation for teaching the GCSE. 
*Practical lesson plans and supporting resources including shopping lists and videos are available in the online Exploring Food and Nutrition for KS3 Teaching and Learning Resources which support this textbook.

View Exploring Food and Nutrition resources >