The government has pledged up to £11.8 million to provide thousands more school children from disadvantaged families with a healthy and nutritious breakfast.
There are currently around 1,800 school breakfast clubs that have been created or improved by the National School Breakfast Programme. With the additional funding, up to 650 more schools will benefit from the scheme throughout the year.
“We want every child to lead a healthy, active and happy lifestyle regardless of their background,” schools minister Lord Agnew says. “That’s why we are giving thousands more children in disadvantaged areas the opportunity to attend a breakfast club, which will help boost attendance, behaviour and attainment, helping them to achieve their best in school.”
The extra funding will allow charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast to continue running the National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP) until March 2021.
“Thanks to the successful NSBP, we are already providing a free, nutritious breakfast every school day to over 280,000 children in some of the most deprived areas of England,” says David Holmes CBE, chief executive of Family Action. “Family Action is delighted that the new funding announced by the Department for Education (DfE) ensures that the NSBP will now continue for an extra year. Every single meal that is being provided through this programme is making an immediate difference to children across the country every day. It is literally fuelling learning.”
“A hungry pupil cannot learn, simple as that, so in the spirit of levelling up and unleashing Britain’s potential, it is great news that NSBP funding has been extended,” adds Carmel McConnell MBE, founder of Magic Breakfast. “Headteachers tell us that the Magic Breakfast model creates improvements in pupil behaviour, punctuality, attendance and wellbeing as a result of the NSBP. This funding allows the award-winning Family Action and Magic Breakfast NSBP partnership to reach even more hungry schoolchildren with the nourishment they so urgently need. It’s a fantastic investment in their future and the future of this country.”
In addition to the breakfast club investment, £9m – funded by the DfE – will be used to provide thousands of disadvantaged children free meals and activities during the six-week summer holiday.
Through these breakfast and holiday programmes, parents will also have access to information so they can learn how best to provide their children with healthy food.
Following these announcements by the Government, a spokesperson for LACA says, “LACA welcome the announcement to increase funding for school breakfast and holiday programmes. We would like to see this approach reflected in the Universal Infant Free School Meals policy (UIFSM). UIFSM provides as many children as possible with a hot, healthy and nutritious meal and has been linked to higher attainment and better concentration.
“However, as LACA have long highlighted, the £2.30 awarded for these meals has not increased since 2014 despite the rising cost of food and labour. In their 2019 manifesto the Conservatives committed to maintaining the school meal provision. If the cost of UIFSM is not increased the policy will become increasingly more difficult to deliver, with potential cuts having to be made. This was echoed by the Institute for Fiscal studies who said that if the Government want to reverse the real-term cuts to per-meal spending and protect funding going forward £2.51 needs to be raised. As such, we are calling on the new Government to stick to their manifesto pledge and commit to saving UIFSM.”
In addition to these announcements, the Welsh government has revealed that a scheme to provide breakfasts or a mid-morning snack for Year 7 pupils receiving free school meals will be piloted this year. A free breakfast is currently provided to most primary school pupils in Wales, however not for secondary school pupils. The pilot scheme, which is due to begin in September, aims to help pupils from disadvantaged families.