Healthier starts dues to improved breakfast clubs

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi has announced that thousands more school children are receiving a healthier and more nutritious start to the day at a new or improved school breakfast club.

Since March, 500 new or improved breakfast clubs have signed up to the National School Breakfast Programme, worth up to £26 million, with more than 150 already up and running in schools.

Delivered by Family Action, the latest figures show that 15,000 breakfasts are already being served every day to children, many of whom are from disadvantaged families. The programme has an extra focus on 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.

The Education Endowment Foundation claims that breakfast clubs that offer pupils in primary schools a free and nutritious meal before school can boost their reading, writing and maths results, with many clubs also offering children the chance to be more active and provide extra-curricular activities such as extra reading sessions to improve their learning.

Following the success of the programme to date, which is funded by the soft drinks industry levy, the government is working with the charities to encourage more schools and organisations to provide breakfast.

Zahawi said: “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.

“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 per cent, 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 Education Secretary’s announcement in March enabled two leading charities to run clubs to improve breakfast for pupils in more than 1,700 schools by 2020. Family Action and Magic Breakfast are already working with the government to help encourage more children to attend the clubs by asking schools to collaborate and share best practice. This includes £2 million for projects to encourage children to eat a healthy breakfast, and improve the way that schools share best practice.