The Food Teachers Centre is looking to attract more people into food teaching.
When she was furloughed earlier this year, Nicola Knott signed up with Furlonteer, an organisation that connects people on furlough with remote volunteer opportunities. “I wanted to keep busy and to be distracted from negative thoughts around Covid-19 and to give back. It’s good for your mental health,” she says.
She let Furlonteer know her skillset – her background is in in-house recruitment – and they matched her up with the Food Teachers Centre. The FTC was looking for someone who would be good at attracting people into the profession through social media outreach work and would have the right contacts to do so. She has also had experience in reaching out to particular groups of individuals. In a previous role, for instance, she had put together a business case for and designed a returnship programme. That was very personal to her as Nicola had herself taken a career break to have children and took longer out of work – eight years in total – due to the lack of support for returners at the time.
The Food Teachers Centre is a voluntary organisation which supports around 5,000 food teachers with training and careers advice. It also lobbies the Government on their behalf on curriculum changes and other issues. Before Covid-19, they had been in discussions with the Department for Education on how to get more people into food teaching. One of the concerns is that many food teachers are approaching retirement and are not being replaced by specialist food teachers. The financial challenges facing schools means many are getting other teachers to cover food technology classes.
Nicola’s job is to help put together a social media campaign to attract people into the profession. “It’s not the first thing you think about when you consider being a teacher, but it is a critical subject,” she says. The Food Teachers Centre are looking for individuals with a passion for food and who are interested in working with young people who are happy to do the required PGCE training whether at college or on the job.
Nicola is putting together case studies and videos for a new website to accompany the recruitment campaign. She says: “Food teaching is vital for our health and the environment. A lot of children don’t know where their food comes from. Food teaching gives them a good grounding in nutrition and helps to build future food professionals.”