Dip in students taking food technology as government plans to scrap A level

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

A level results: Fall in food technology students

Related tags: Food technology, science

The number of young people studying food technology at A level has fallen amid controversy over government plans to ditch the qualification.

The news comes as A level food technology students across the country opened their exam results today with 7% gaining A* grades and 13% managing to get As.

Food and drink industry leaders have warned that axing the A level would damage the sector and increase the skills gap by deterring young people from entering it.

The number of food technology students fell 5% from 1,127 young people in 2014 to 1,071 students this year, according to data from AQA and Pearson exam boards.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said the lack of take up of food technology showed an image problem and misunderstandings of the food manufacturing sector.

“It is always concerning to hear a subject that could support these pathways may no longer be available,”​ a FDF spokeswoman said.

“Our members continue to report skills gaps, particularly in engineering and food science.”

‘Mixed bag for business’

Food technology A level results 2015

  • A* - 7.2%
  • A - 12.9%
  • B - 26.6%
  • C - 26.3%
  • D - 18.1%
  • E - 7.9%
  • U - 0.9%

Meanwhile, manufacturers’ organisation EEF raised concerns over a dip in the number of students taking sciences and a decrease in top grades for physics, maths and chemistry.

Verity O’Keefe, senior skills policy adviser at EEF, said: “Today’s A level results present a mixed bag for business.

“Industry applauds all those young people who have chosen to study challenging STEM ​[science, technology, engineering and mathematics] subjects and the 4% jump in the number of young people taking maths at A level is encouraging.”

O’Keefe said the government, schools and industry needed to encourage more girls to study STEM subjects because manufacturers needed a wide pool of talent.

Without greater encouragement for girls to take up key subjects such as maths and physics, that pool remains worryingly shallow,” ​she said.

Design and technology, which includes food technology as one of its subjects, saw a 3% dip in student numbers compared to last year.

‘Pool remains worryingly shallow

The Department for Education (DfE) said food technology did not “fit comfortably” ​under design and technology​ while universities value the sciences to get onto food nutrition and science courses. 

“For those students wanting to progress to a career in food, there are career­-specific vocational qualifications, for example in confectionery/butchery,” ​the DfE said.

Industry bosses and FoodManufacture.co.uk readers slammed the DfE's plans to ditch A level food technology​ and claimed it could be detrimental to the sector's future.

A consultation on GCSE and A level reforms closes on September 24.

For more information visit the consultation website​.

Top decreases in numbers taking A level subjects


Please click on the graph to enlarge. 

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A-level Food and Enterprise is the answer

Posted by Des,

Create an A-level focused on supporting the Food Enterprise Zones being developed by the government. The course could start with improving public health through dis-assembly and reassembly of existing food products. Supply chain and value chain analysis can incorporate writers such as Demming and Porter. Academic rigour can be added by making reference to the field of Operations Management. A-level Food needs a new specification but could be a real star in promoting creative/critical/forensic/business thinking.It could develop STEM ideas within the curriculum and encourage more students to consider carriers within the diverse industry.

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pay up

Posted by celts,

Perhaps the food industry and supermarkets should pay better wages and make it a worthwhile career to pursue.

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Oh dear

Posted by Sara Autton,

This is really very bad news for our sector, particularly as we are trying to boost recruitment with additional initiatives such as Trailblazer apprenticeships, traineeships etc. It is also an indication of how unconnected young people are with the origins and manufacture of the food they eat. Food is such a fundamental and integral part of life - it is sad that people care so little about it.

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