NFU Scotland was pleased to have a constructive initial discussion with the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Skills and Education, John Swinney MSP, last week (Thursday 8 March) on opportunities to build on farming and food education within the Scottish schools system.
With new legislation on a Good Food Nation and an Education Bill coming forward this parliamentary term, NFU Scotland used the discussions to highlight the great opportunity to ensure that all of society has an understanding of the role of agriculture – whether that is in providing food or in what it delivers for the environment.
At the meeting NFU Scotland representatives discussed with Mr Swinney how the farming community can engage and collaborate more with schools and other skills providers – and vice versa.
NFU Scotland Vice President Martin Kennedy, who was present at the meeting, said: “Our discussions with the Deputy First Minister were very productive. We look forward to playing our part in this important work stream with Mr Swinney and his colleagues – the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity in particular – to ‘reconnect the disconnect’ between schools and agriculture.
“It was encouraging to hear during our discussions that there is currently no barrier to including agriculture and food production within school curriculums; however we all accept that more can be done by all parties to reconnect the role of primary food production with topics such as maths, science, engineering and home economics.
“There is already a wealth of work that is being undertaken by a wide range of actors such as the Royal Highland Educational Trust, LANTRA, Developing Young Workforce, SRUC, and others such as Henry Graham’s Education and Skills Agricultural Champions Group. The Skills for Farming group, which NFU Scotland coordinates, is also trying to bring some of this best practice and expertise together.
“The next stage will be to stitch this together with government priorities, particularly in light of new, upcoming legislation on Education and the Good Food Nation. We hope to continue to work with all stakeholders and Scottish Government to take some of this very positive work forward.”