14th January 2021

Home learning bolstered by new industry resource

With home schooling on the agenda for at least the next few weeks, the new digital tool from Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) Health & Education team, Farming Foodsteps, is offering a different way to engage in the sciences, home economics, maths and geography. The free interactive resource is aimed at secondary school children and supports teachers and pupils in subjects across the curriculum through the story of red meat production, from field to plate. The interactive tool was developed when the first lockdown started in March 2020 by QMS’ H&E team of two - Jennifer Robertson and Alix Ritchie - to replace the education sessions and cookery demonstrations they usually deliver in schools, alongside on-site teacher training workshops and supporting RHET Food and Farming visits. Ms Robertson, who has school-age children herself, says: “Educators as well as the agricultural industry are keen to ensure that food and farming retains a significant place in the curriculum. Not only is it a key player in Scotland’s culture, but it can be easily integrated into subjects across the curriculum from literacy and geography to science, cooking and maths. It is also demonstrating to young people the many skills needed in modern agriculture, including technology, statistical analysis and environmental management in addition to the more traditional practices young people often associate with farming.” QMS Chief Executive, Alan Clarke, adds: “At a time when the red meat industry is under increasing scrutiny, this is an opportunity to present the facts of red meat production and sustainability in a creative and engaging way for young people to learn the whole story and allow them to make informed lifestyle decisions.” Farming Foodsteps has been developed in line with the national curriculum and focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), a key priority of the Scottish Government and Education Scotland. It sits on an easy-to-use interactive platform online, with five main lessons full of colourful presentations, interactive games and tools, editable worksheets, and quizzes ideal for the home learning environment. The nature of Farming Foodsteps is that it can be taught digitally, and it can be intuitively worked through by a pupil who has access to a laptop, tablet or phone, without support from an adult. The “Glorious Grass” activity found in Lesson 2 – To Field, is a real maths challenge bringing to life the science of grass and its importance to Scottish farming. The unique Scottish difference is also peppered throughout the resource. Another science-based activity found in Lesson 5 – To Fork, focuses on the Maillard reaction that occurs when cooking red meat, often called the browning reaction, but could be called the flavour reaction too. Both Ms Robertson and Ms Ritchie are working parents and appreciate the struggle to balance work with schooling. Their children have been involved in sense checking the resource and its accessibility at home. Ms Robertson concluded: “Learning has definitely changed over the last few months, and we would love to see Farming Foodsteps bolster home learning for families across Scotland. We are asking families to share their experiences on our social pages, and we are here to support anyone who needs help getting to grips with it. “Farming Foodsteps is all about interactive fun while delivering some important messages, and it is another step towards equipping a new generation with the STEM skills, knowledge and capability needed to thrive in the changing world around us.” QMS’ Scotch Kitchen in Schools will be featuring a suite of recipe videos on Twitter (@scotchkitchensc) that can easily be created at home, whilst supporting learning in the Home Economics and Hospitality set curriculum. You can find Farming Foodsteps at: education.qmscotland.co.uk/farmingfoodsteps and on Twitter @scotchkitchensc.

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