Budget cuts force school breakfast clubs to close

Released 11/10/2011

Breakfast campaign is launched to provide one million breakfasts by 2012

3,000 breakfast clubs shut because of budget cuts

One in eight school breakfast clubs have been forced to shut because of dwindling budgets, education leaders have revealed.

Over 20,000 breakfast clubs were running in schools around Britain providing a nutritious meal for children as well as often essential childcare for working parents.

However, 3,000 of these have now closed and more than half of the teachers surveyed (52%) said that budget cuts were to blame.

The survey, by Kellogg's, has revealed that of the schools still running breakfast clubs, nearly half (45%) think budget cuts will force these clubs to close unless other funding becomes available.

Impact on education

This could have a detrimental impact on education, according to the 727 teaching staff surveyed across the UK.

Almost two thirds (62%) believe the closure of their breakfast club would result in lower grades in their school and 52% worry behaviour would also deteriorate.

While nearly all (98%) felt those students who had eaten breakfast were able to concentrate better in lessons that those that hadn't.

Attendance (37%) and punctuality (51%) would also be negatively impacted according to the report and one in six (17%) teachers felt that certain children wouldn't get breakfast at all if it wasn't for the breakfast club.

These worries are supported by another survey by Magic Breakfast, a charity that provides breakfast to 6,000 children in 200 primary schools in the most deprived areas of the country, which found that 88% of 140 primary schools see improved student attendance and attainment when their children eat breakfast, as well a 91% improvement in child energy and concentration.     

Alex Cunningham, who ran Magic Breakfast's school research programme, said: "If we want children from the more deprived communities to achieve social mobility, we have to start at primary school level. These results show that our school programme transforms child attendance, punctuality, concentration and behaviour. It works. Our social enterprise approach is needed in 1,000 schools, to improve parent education and engagement, as well as school capacity to become self funding."

Breakfast campaign

Kellogg's, which has set up over 500 breakfast clubs in partnership with education charity ContinYou, is launching the ‘Help give a child a breakfast' campaign, pledging to make a donation to school breakfast clubs for every pack of Corn Flakes sold with the target of raising a minimum of £300,000 - which they say will provide one million breakfasts by the end of 2012.

John Lane, headteacher from Sacred Heart Primary School in Islington, London said breakfast clubs were a "lifeline" for many children, but with budgets being tight, they could become an "unaffordable luxury" in future.  

"If our club were to close, not only would that impact on teachers, who would have to contend with distracted pupils, and parents, from a childcare perspective, but it's the children that would ultimately pay the greatest price," he said.  

According to the research, a quarter of primary school teachers felt that the closure of their breakfast club would significantly inconvenience parents and Siobhan Freegard from leading online parenting organisation Netmums agrees.

"Breakfast clubs are a sanity saver for us mums - particularly working mums - because we're pushed for time in the morning and we know our children are benefiting from a good breakfast that will help them learn and achieve," she said.

"Many parents would really struggle for childcare if schools were to cut back on wrap-around services putting increased pressure on our jobs."

It's hoped the campaign will help bridge the funding gap and Kellogg's are calling on schools to apply for the grants by visiting www.giveachildabreakfast.co.uk.

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