2nd February, 2022

Magic Breakfast's Response to the Government's Levelling Up White Paper

Magic Breakfast welcomes assurances, in the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, that “skills, schools and families are at the heart of plans to improve public services and level up left behind areas”.   

For a modest investment, the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, could make levelling up a reality for hundreds of thousands of children unable to learn due to hunger in the classroom. The Government needs to boost the very limited funding of breakfast provision which presently reaches around 1 in 6 of the most disadvantaged schools [1] – and ensure schools get sustainable long-term support to end classroom hunger. 

We welcome the focus on 55 new ‘Education Investment Areas’ in England, which will include the locations of many of our 1,000+ partner schools. We note especially that schools "struggling with attendance will be encouraged to join a new pilot programme to tackle the issue".  As the Department for Education knows from having partnered with Magic Breakfast on successful school breakfast programmes, free school breakfast provision targeted at children in disadvantaged areas, with expert in-person “School Partner” support, is proven to boost pupil attendance and educational attainment [2]. We look forward to hearing how the Government might include school breakfast provision in their levelling up plans as a proven and cost-effective intervention [3].   

We are pleased too to see that The White Paper will set a national mission to ensure that 90% of children leaving primary school in England are reaching the expected standard in reading, writing, and maths by 2030.  Again, this is where school breakfast provision can help with boosting attainment. Our partner schools report that after breakfast at school, pupils are settled and ready to learn.  Independent research, by the Education Endowment Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies, found that Y2 pupils in schools providing a free, nutritious 'magic' breakfast boosted their reading, writing and maths by an average of 2 months’ progress per year, compared to pupils in schools with no such breakfast provision.     

We are interested to see the details of plans for a National Youth Guarantee where, according to Government, every young person in England will have access to regular clubs and activities, adventures away from home and volunteering opportunities by 2025. We hope breakfast clubs will be included.  

We know that free, hunger-focused, school breakfast provision can not only transform a disadvantaged child’s engagement with learning, but it can transform a school’s learning environment each morning too.  However, school breakfast provision is currently a patchwork across England leaving many children starting lessons hungry, unable to concentrate, unable to learn, unable to fulfil their potential.   

Current government funding for school breakfasts is due to end in 2023, is only due to reach one third of schools whose pupils would benefit from a school breakfast, at best; and there is no in-school expert support from “School Partners” whom the Education Endowment Foundation have identified as crucial to the delivery of successful hunger-focused breakfast provision at scale [4]. 

There is still much to do to level up opportunity in the classroom. The Government needs to prioritise money for schools to operate free breakfast provision as a foundation from which their levelling up plans can grow.  

Magic Breakfast proposes that the Government invests in free school breakfast provision in every disadvantaged school in England. For £75 million more a year 800,000 pupils facing food insecurity in Primary, SEN and PRU schools would benefit from a cost-effective and proven way to tackle hunger and raise attainment.    

Ref [1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-than-half-a-million-children-benefitted-from-healthy-food-and-activities-during-summer 

Ref [2] Education Endowment Foundation, Institute for Fiscal Studies 2017 https://bit.ly/3IYZWur 

Ref [3] https://www.magicbreakfast.com/news/roi-report-2021 

Ref [4] Education Endowment Foundation NSBP Evaluation 2021 https://bit.ly/3oj1sj0