Guest blog by Magic Breakfast School Partner for London and the South East, Jan Jemson, who describes an inspiring visit to a very special school.

Cuckmere House School in Seaford, East Sussex, is an outstanding special school for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) from Key Stage 1 to 4. 

The school has worked with Magic Breakfast to create a breakfast provision that strongly supports its ethos, based on building strong and supportive relationships with pupils and their parents and carers.

As part of this ethos the parents and children can be sure that all pupils will receive a warm welcome and offer of a healthy breakfast when they arrive in school.  Many of the children wake up early and travel long distances in taxis to get to school, which makes it more difficult for them to eat before leaving home. Being able to sit and eat a breakfast in a calm, nurturing and relaxed environment when they arrive at school sets them up physically and emotionally for a good day.

As is the case in many schools across the country there are some children whose families struggle to provide them with breakfast for a variety of complex reasons, some financial, some due to problems within the home. The breakfast provision is particularly important for those vulnerable children, its inclusive nature ensuring there are no barriers of cost or stigma; all are welcome.

On a recent visit I was really touched by the caring breakfast club staff, who greeted each child warmly by name and made sure they each had what they needed to eat and drink. The staff encouraged and modelled good table manners and considerate behaviour towards each other.  As a result, the children were polite, friendly and thoughtful in their behaviour. All of them seemed happy and relaxed in the club and every child thanked the club leaders as they left the room, without prompting.

On the wall a display board recorded the thoughts of the children on their breakfast provision, clearly showing how much they appreciated it:

‘I enjoy breakfast club because it’s the kick that gets me started every day.’

‘I always wanted to have breakfast with my friends.’

‘I like breakfast club because it starts the day with some energy. Fact: If you have no energy you can’t work in school.’

Cuckmere House School works to create an engaging learning environment that encourages learners to become independent and self-motivated.  In the breakfast club the children are expected to clear away their dishes and put them into the dishwasher. The children themselves asked for recycling bins to be provided in the room as they have learned how important it is to be part of a society that thinks about the environment.

Staff told me that they are very grateful to all those who donate to Magic Breakfast as they are enabling them to provide the nurture and support their children need in the mornings.

Jan Jemson, School Partner, London & the South East