New Technical Award: Food and Catering

Tuesday 14 Jun 2016

We’ve developed a new Technical Award in Food and Catering that allows young learners to develop the skills and knowledge required to prepare high quality food within a home or commercial catering setting. The new qualification will be available for first teaching in September 2017. It sits alongside the new Food Preparation and Nutrition GCSE and replaces our outgoing GCSE in Food Technology.

Technical Awards are practical, vocational qualifications available to 14-16 year olds to take alongside GCSEs. If approved by the Department for Education, a single award will be equivalent to a GCSE qualification and will count towards performance tables. They could then be included in Progress 8 as part of the non-Ebacc open group of subjects.

Course content

We have worked with experts in industry and education to identify 12 core skills in food production. Learners will get the chance to develop, practice and demonstrate these skills, making a variety of food products. They’ll need to consider how to scale up production to produce larger quantities suitable for a commercial setting.

Our new qualification allows learners to:

  • develop a broad knowledge of ingredients, techniques, standard components and equipment
  • develop a wide range of practical skills to produce high quality food products
  • develop decision making skills through both independent and collaborative work
  • communicate their decisions effectively to a third party
  • be able to read, interpret and work from recipes and plans
  • be able to develop menus, recipes and plans for making
  • develop an understanding of quality and how this can be achieved by rigorous quality controls
  • use materials and equipment efficiently in relation to cost and environmental impact
  • demonstrate safe and hygienic working practices at home and in a commercial environment
  • use key technical terminology related to ingredients and processes
  • develop the knowledge and understanding to evaluate and refine their own skills
  • develop an awareness of commercial practices and employment opportunities.

All learners will be taught and assessed in the same way, and there is no need to split your class into Level 1 and Level 2.

Assessment structure

There are two internally-assessed units, and a third unit that is externally assessed.

Unit 1: Skills Demonstration (30%)

Learners will produce a portfolio of products to demonstrate core skills outlined in the specification.

These skills include:

  • general food preparation skills
  • cooking skills and methods used in a home and commercial context

Unit 2: Extended making project (30%)

Learners will undertake an extended project that showcases the skills they have developed in unit 1.

Learners must:

  • select recipes which are appropriate for the selected theme and give detailed reasons for their choices
  • make between 4 and 6 recipes to demonstrate their competency in a range of practical skills
  • produce a range of dishes that are presented with a variety of different quality finishes
  • write a production plan for each recipe
  • evaluate the outcomes including commentary on what went well and what could be improved for each recipe. This needs to be clearly communicated demonstrating literacy skills and use of technical terms

Example briefs learners might receive:

  • charity cake sale
  • Year 11 prom event
  • international menu for a local restaurant

The project will be marked against the following criteria:

  • planning and development
  • making
  • evaluation
  • communication

Unit 3: External assessment (written exam - 40%)

Learners will be assessed on the following topics:

  • Ingredients and food commodities
  • Planning recipes and menus
  • Food safety and hygiene
  • Food, diet and health
  • Nutrition and food choice

Why choose AQA

Insight from teachers:

I like the focus on practical skills.

Louise Smith, Food teacher, Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy, Walsall

It covers a comprehensive range of knowledge and skills. It is all connected and relevant and fits together well.

Jane Burns, Teacher, Food Technology, Huntington School

Where this award leads

This Technical Award is designed to equip learners with the practical skills in Food and Catering that they need to progress to further general or vocational study. They’ll develop a broad understanding of the sector, so they can make informed decisions about their career opportunities.

Learners will also develop valuable transferable skills including communication and collaboration.

We’ve worked with post-16 education providers to ensure that Technical Awards count equally alongside GCSEs when applying to do further study in either general or vocational qualifications.

Support and resources

We’ll be submitting our draft qualification to the Department for Education in September 2016, when we’ll share the draft specification with you. We’re also planning a series of free support events throughout the autumn term, alongside a full set of resources.

Design and Technology Technical Award qualifications

We have developed a suite of four Technical Awards in the following subjects:

These qualifications complement our GCSE in Design and Technology and Food Preparation and Nutrition.

Contact us

Our subject team is here to help. Sign up for updates on our new Technical Awards, or contact Amanda Luby and the customer support team on 0161 957 3334 or by email at