16 September 2021

Every year, in the summer term, we survey our partner schools, of which there are now over 1,000. Last summer, with so many schools closed to the majority of pupils and the huge demands on teaching staff, we were unable to do this, but this year we had a good response despite some Covid-19 restrictions still being in place.

It is always so valuable to receive this feedback, not just to see the impact of our breakfast provision but also to get information that will help us improve our support and help us understand better the challenges our schools and their communities are facing.

From a sample of 750 of our partner schools, 79% of schools believe that child hunger has increased in their community in the last year and 89% believe poverty has increased.

This year we asked schools to describe what poverty looks like in their community.

Sadly, we are used to reading about children in our schools being malnourished and having unhealthy diets, but this year health and dental issues were themes that appeared repeatedly. There were also many reports of children having unsuitable, ill-fitting or dirty clothing, a lack of coats and PE kits and worn shoes.

‘Children can be tired, demotivated and stressed as a result of low-income family pressures. Their engagement with school and with other pupils deteriorates - they are experiencing and worrying about things that shouldn't be a child's problem or concern.’ 

Many schools reported that hunger and poverty was having a detrimental effect on children’s ability to concentrate and engage in their lessons. Hunger often manifests itself as lethargy or bad behaviour ultimately leading to poorer attainment levels.

Covid-19 has undoubtedly exacerbated many of the existing problems faced by our school communities and we are pleased therefore to be reaching significantly more children with a healthy breakfast this year (over 200,000 in total). On average 209 pupils are receiving breakfast at Magic Breakfast partner schools, an increase of 107% compared with prior to the pandemic. This increase is due in part to us having welcomed schools from the former National School Breakfast Programme whose government funding for breakfasts ended at Christmas time. These were schools with very high need whom we were keen to help continue with their high level of excellent breakfast provision.  

As this data was collected during the summer term, many schools reported that breakfast provision was enormously helpful in supporting the school during Covid and in re-engaging children on their return.

We have had many pupils come back after lockdown with separation anxiety and struggling to come into class. Having a breakfast club that is fun and relaxing has helped enormously in getting them settled back in

96% of schools agreed that breakfast provision has supported pupils’ readiness to learn in the classroom following a school closure.

Once back in the classroom, 94% of schools agree that breakfast improves pupils’ energy levels/alertness in class and 81% of schools believe school breakfast improves mental/emotional wellbeing. 

The whole school community has really benefited from breakfast provisions; families have felt the relief of less financial pressure, the children are less hungry and more able and willing to learn, and the teachers and school staff are benefitting because those children have positive behaviour as a result.’ 

One school said it so succinctly:

Something as simple as a regular breakfast and a consistent, supportive start to each day makes a massive difference to our most vulnerable children and families.’ 

Magic Breakfast would like to thank those in our partner schools who took time and care in completing our survey.