Computers and wifi for NEA 2?

Can computers and the internet be used for NEA 2 Food Preparation and Nutrition?

These are responses I have received from Eduqas, AQA and OCR

Eduqas – my question and response from Allison Candy WJEC
Me – I wonder how the Nutrition Program can be used for NEA 2 for Eduqas.
Allison – I see no reason why the nutrition program cannot be used to do nutritional analysis if the brief requires it ( not all tasks will)
Me – If they are investigating how to make dishes healthier, can they use a nutritional analysis program or must they use a book to do the calculations?
Allison – Yes can use the program
Me –Portion control must be evident so how will they work out the kcals in a dish and the portion weight – again must this be done without access to the internet?
For sensory evaluation, descriptors are needed for sensory properties. The Nutrition Program has an online Star Profile – is this forbidden to be used and must they draw out the star profile by hand?
Allison – Yes can use the program, as they still need knowledge to analyse what they see.
Me – I have recently been on a food photography course on using a mobile phone but does the JCQ statement mean that mobile phones cannot be used to photograph dishes?
Allison – If centres are happy for learners to use phones in class that’s fine .


This is the response from AQA Customer service adviser

The NEA is not formally supervised (I understand this meaning a formal exam under exam conditions), the NEA is not under formal conditions.
Students are therefore permitted to:
– use the internet for research purposes
– use nutritional analysis software.
– use digital photography, whether this is a mobile or other devise.  This will be at the discretion of the centre’s policy on digital images etc.

This is the response from Gill Taylor, Subject Officer OCR

‘I am aware that the reference to resources and the information related to this in 4.3  in the JCQ guidance has caused some concerns amongst Food teachers. We have produced guidance for the NEA on page 20 of the OCR specification J309 GCSE (9-1) Food Preparation and Nutrition.
We have not stated in our guidance that the use of resources  is tightly prescribed  to candidates preparatory notes and access to the Internet is not permitted and candidates are not allowed to bring their own computers devices and phones.
I am aware that the JCQ statement  4.3 on resources (• the use of resources is always tightly prescribed and normally restricted to the candidate’s preparatory notes; • access to the internet is not permitted; • candidates are not allowed to bring their own computers or other electronic devices, e.g. mobile phones) does stand for other subjects  such as OCR GCSE Computing.
We would wish our candidates to use a nutritional analysis programme in NEA 1 to investigate the chemical (nutrient) structure of food commodities when they are researching. This is useful for candidates understanding and knowledge of the functional properties of food.

For the NEA Task 2 . Our expectation is that candidates use nutritional analysis for consideration and suitability of dishes in terms of nutritional choice. We expect candidates also to use nutritional analysis to assess the contribution a dish makes to a balanced  diet with reference to the governments guidelines for a healthy diet.

In our CPD training we suggest and recommend that teachers and candidates use the Nutrition program (Jenny Ridgwell) or Explore Food (BNF). We encourage the use of sensory profiling in both Task 1 and 2 as a format to convey results. Again we would find it acceptable for candidates to use your program or an excel program.

We require photographic evidence for Task 2 to include a photograph of 3 complete dishes in one photo  and 2 photographs illustrating skills that have been demonstrated. We are not encouraging large photographic journals.

In Task 1 photos can be used  as a format for displaying and demonstrating investigation results. Commentary is required to explain the photo. I think who takes the photos is dependent on individual school policy. We appreciate that teachers are now assessing large groups, it may well become the students responsibility to take the photos in some centres. I hope I have managed to explain our position at OCR in relation to the JCQ guidance on resources.’

The questions were generated due to a report from

These statements are from JCQ’s Instructions for conducting non-examination assessments (new GCE & GCSE specifications)
1 September 2017 to 31 August 2018 Instructions for conducting non-examination assessments 2017-2018(1)
4. 1
Work may be completed outside of the centre without direct supervision, provided that the centre is confident that the work produced is the candidate’s own. Candidates may normally:
• have unlimited access to electronic and printed resources;
• use the internet without restriction;
• work in groups.
Where candidates work in groups, the teacher should keep a record of each candidate’s contribution.

4.2 Advice and feedback
As appropriate to the subject and component, centres should advise candidates on aspects such as those listed below before work begins:
• sources of information;
• relevance of materials/concepts;
• structure of the response (for example, chapter titles and content);
• techniques of data collection;
• techniques of data presentation;
• skills of analysis and evaluation;
• health and safety considerations, including the use of equipment;
• potential ethical considerations;
• security of their work.
Centres must not provide model answers or writing frames specific to the task (such as outlines, paragraph headings or section headings).


Presenting dishes for the exams NEA2

What is my recipe for outstanding presentation? – by Carly Anderson Notre Dame School

As we all know, in light of the new GCSE, advanced presentation skills are essential for achieving the higher levels.  The NEA 2 focuses on presentation and awards marks for this skill (OCR).  This year I have been working hard with my pupils to develop a greater understanding of how crucial presentation is when creating dishes; after all, we eat with our eyes first.

‘’ A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.’’ – Salvador Dali

So how do I do this?

  • Firstly, I try to instil in pupils from an early stage (KS3) the importance of presentation and encourage them to research dishes to aid in developing this. I build this into the KS3 curriculum when assessing and evaluating a dish during the sensory analysis process.
  • At KS4/5 pupils are required to plan the presentation of the majority of the dishes they produce. A great way to do this is to give them a template planning sheet for presentation.  I use this tool as homework or as additional work for challenging higher level students.  This is usually in the planning stage, preparing timed plans before practical lessons.
  • Thirdly, plenty of resources based on presentation. There are many good books that pupils can use as references in aiding the creation of stunning dishes.  Pinterest is also an invaluable source for food presentation and fresh ideas.
  • Finally, it is essential to dedicate lessons to the understanding of presentation of food and when demonstrating such dishes, show pupils a variety of different ways to present them.

“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.” -Marcel Boulestin

When it comes to presentation I think encouragement and independent creative experimentation is key.  The pupils need to feel comfortable in making mistakes and evaluating how to improve the dish the next time around.

“I know that when I present my dishes, if I don’t like the way they look I have the confidence to just start again, to make it look perfect.” Georgia Year 11

Written by Carly Anderson Notre Dame School 

My thanks to Carly for this interesting Blog page – useful ideas – like Pinterest!

Sugar in cakes

Sugar used in cooking comes from either sugar cane or sugar beet

Intrinsic sugars are contained within the cell structure of foods such as fruit and vegetables.
Extrinsic sugars are sugars added to a product during preparation such as caster sugar added to make cakes.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended that free sugar should be no more than 5%
of daily energy.
Definition of free sugars – those sugars added by manufacturers and cooks plus sugars from
honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

Functional properties of sugar (sucrose)
• Provides sweetness to products.
• Dissolves and made into a syrup.
• When heated will caramelise and provide golden brown colour to the product.
Combined with yeast will speed the fermentation process.
• Helps aerate a mixture during the creaming method when combined with fat.
• Acts a preservative in jam.
• Keeps the product moist.

“Sugar gives us that delicious texture and crumb, the lovely golden brown colour and it prolongs how long we can store our bakes”
“Sugar also keeps baked goods moist so sugar-free versions may need to be wrapped in cling film before storage to prevent drying out.” Good Food’s Nutritional Therapist Kerry Torrens

Health risks of too much sugar in your diet
• Tooth decay
• Obesity
• Type 2 diabetes.
Ways of lowering the sugar content in dishes
• In most baked recipes you can reduce the sugar content by up to 30% but test the recipe!
• You can use artificial sweeteners which often provide no calories. They are sweeter than
sugar but some lose their sweetness when heated so the cake will collapse.
• If using fruit that has edible skin such as apples, remove the skin as it is has a sharp
flavour and needs extra sugar to make it more edible.
• Use dried fruit in a cake mix. Fruits such as raisins, apricots or figs are high in natural

Working characteristics – how the ingredient behaves, its performance or how it is used to its best advantage, when in a recipe cooked on its own, or as an accompaniment.
Functional properties  – the purpose for which the ingredient is being used and can be linked to its: structure, nutritional value, taste, texture, appearance, shelf life.

These are exam board definitions – I think they mean the same!!!

Sugar substitutes  – alternative ingredients Xylitol

Sugar explained

Stevia Agave 

Sugar free baking   – blog with information on sugar

Time plan and dovetailing

Use My Recipes in The Nutrition Program to write the Method for your recipes.

Like GGBO you can use a phone or ipad to work on your recipes during the practical test. When you have 3 recipes for your final GCSE Task, you need to dovetail the making steps to fit the 3 hour plan.

Recipe sheets on Nutrition Program


  • Print off your 3 recipes on 3 different coloured paper and chop them up and stick into the plan.
  • Use Word to create a table and use different text colours for each dish.
  • Colour the time plan and show stages.

Find these ideas in Food Preparation Assessment written by me – Jenny Ridgwell

Thanks to Dave Smith for once again creating me some funny drawings to liven up the text.

Thanks to Dave Smith for this!

Dovetailing recipes for the timeplan GCSE