MSP warns of obesity risk as pupils lose out on nutrition lessons

Pupils are losing out on valuable life skills, including how to combat obesity, because of a fall in the number of home economics teachers in schools since the SNP came to power. (Photo by Harrison /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Pupils are losing out on valuable life skills, including how to combat obesity, because of a fall in the number of home economics teachers in schools since the SNP came to power. (Photo by Harrison /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
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Pupils are losing out on valuable life skills, including how to combat obesity, because of a fall in the number of home economics teachers since the SNP came to power, a Scottish Labour MSP has claimed.

There are currently 786 home economics teachers in Scotland, down from 990 in 2007.

The subject covers a wide range of areas including food preparation, nutrition and diet, consumer studies, managing money, family health and lifestyle which health campaigners say can help promote healthier lifestyles.

Monica Lennon, MSP, Scottish Labour inequalities spokeswoman, said failing to give pupils a grounding in home economics risked building up health problems for the future.

“Under the SNP we have seen teacher numbers plummet across Scotland.

“There are more than 200 fewer home economics teachers since the SNP came to power.

“Home economics is an important subject for pupils to learn life skills, but also should form part of a wider early intervention strategy against childhood obesity.

“Teaching our young people about nutrition and how to cook healthy meals is the sort of step that could reduce the stress on our NHS in years to come.

“The SNP promised to make education its top priority, but it has been completely side-tracked by ministers campaigning for a divisive second independence referendum. They should be focused on the bread and butter issues – like making sure our schools have enough teachers.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has questioned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on falling teacher numbers, claiming Scotland’s schools had lost 4,000 post since 2007.

In February John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills, announced that teacher training places were to rise by 371 places from September, bringing the total to 3,861.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, said the shortfall highlighted the problem with teacher recruitment as well as possible health issues.

“These statistics show that more needs to be done to encourage people to view teaching home economics as an attractive career choice.

“The subject is vital in the overall development of youngsters – providing students with an opportunity to learn fundamental life skills.

“With an evident drop in the number of these teachers, we run the risk of future generations lacking basic skills - which could thereafter lead to various health problems.”