The government is encouraging more schools in disadvantaged areas to join its breakfast clubs programme, run by Family Action and Magic Breakfast.
The scheme has had a slow start but a significant one, with 500 schools signing up to the National School Breakfast Programme since March, with more than 150 already up and running in schools. This is in addition to the 15,000 breakfasts that are already being served every day to children, many from disadvantaged families.
But the scheme can help more. The government has invested up to £26m for the two charities to deliver the programme and aims to provide more than 1,700 breakfast clubs by 2020. The programme is funded by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.
“We want every child to have the best possible start in life, and that means getting the best possible start to their day. It’s fantastic to see the positive effect that new breakfast clubs are having right across the country – particularly in our most disadvantaged areas,” said Nadhim Zahawi, minister for children and families.
“We have already made strides in our attempts to help every child reach their potential, with 300,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty in this country and the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils reduced by 10%, but we know there is more to do.
“That’s why I want to encourage schools to take part in this rewarding programme that is already providing a boost in so many of our classrooms.”
The breakfast programme is focused on the most disadvantaged parts of the country, including the government’s 12 Opportunity Areas – which are receiving a share of £72 million to help raise education standards in areas where children face greater challenges. It was set up in response to research from the Education Endowment Foundation, which found that breakfast clubs – and providing a nutritious meal before school – can boost reading, writing and maths results.
To drive uptake, Family Action and Magic Breakfast are working with the government – and using £2m of funding – to encouraging schools to collaborate and share best practice.
“This is a huge opportunity to make a difference to the lives of tens of thousands of children. The progress of the programme so far has been amazing and we are so impressed with the enthusiasm of schools to take part and their eagerness to engage with our dedicated team,” said David Holmes CBE, chief executive of Family Action.
“We want to ensure we help as many children as possible start the day with a healthy breakfast and ready to learn, We are encouraging all eligible schools to get in touch with us as soon as possible so you can become part of the programme too.”
Earlier this summer, the government announced a £2m fund to pilot holiday food and activity provision in the most disadvantaged areas.