1st August 2014
In today’s Daily Telegraph, Christopher Hope reports on government research that concludes that giving free meals to primary school children leads to significant increases in attainment, especially among pupils from poorer backgrounds.
The research, commissioned by the Department for Education and the Department of Health, was carried out during pilot schemes for the roll out in September of the initiative that will allow all pupils in their first three years of primary school to have free school lunches.
The report’s authors suggest the positive effects of the free school meals could be as a result of the children eating more nutritious food, from there being social benefits of children eating a meal together and from more positive relationships between parents and schools. The report reinforces Magic Breakfast’s own experience and research from working with over 250 schools. 94% of Magic Breakfast partner schools have seen children attending breakfast clubs having improved social relationships.
Magic Breakfast partner school, Lawdale Primary School, Tower Hamlets, recently told us:
"The most beneficial part of the breakfast club is the social aspect of children engaging with each other through having breakfast together, helping each other with their homework and of course doing sport related activities"
The overwhelming message that we get from our partner schools is that children who attend breakfast club are able to concentrate better in class, they attend lessons more regularly and so are much more successful in their school work than they were when they came to school too hungry to learn.
Magic Breakfast’s Interim CEO, Alex Cunningham, said:
“This research matches our partner school feedback, that Magic Breakfast support improves child attainment, as well as attendance, punctuality and behaviour. We’re in a period of rapid expansion, having won the Government breakfast club tender earlier this year. Our growth to reach many more hungry children will complement the Universal Infant Free School Meals scheme and continues our role within the School Food Plan.”
We are confident that, as demonstrated in the government’s new research, pupil attainment will follow this increase in healthy breakfast provision and, as a consequence, these breakfast club children will have more choice and success in their academic and working lives.
"The most beneficial thing with the breakfast club is the social skills the children learn from eating and talking together at a table." – Pakeman Primary School, Islington.