Breakfast clubs can be an important way of supporting a whole school focus on healthy lifestyles. Breakfast clubs allow children to have a healthy breakfast in a safe and secure environment before school and can be particularly essential for families who do not have the resources or the time to provide breakfast for their children. They are able to offer children a social environment to have breakfast with their peers. The food provided in breakfast clubs is still expected to follow the healthy food policies which schools follow throughout the day.
Some clubs also offer a range of activities and games or opportunities to work on school work. Most breakfast clubs are open to all pupils at the school, although staff may target particular groups (for instance those with low school attendance or who teachers feel are not being provided food at home). According to research (1), 85% of UK schools currently have a Breakfast Club; this was slightly higher in Wales and slightly lower in Scotland. The average attendance at a UK breakfast club is 35 pupils.
The cost of breakfast clubs vary; some charge a nominal amount per breakfast and some are funded by the school or local or national government schemes. Over half (55%) of UK Breakfast Clubs are self-supporting with 26% supported by the school budget and 5.7% by local or national government schemes. The proportion of breakfast clubs in Wales funded by the Government is far higher (71%). 45% of schools said that funding was the single biggest need for the future of their Breakfast Club. More than half of breakfast clubs in the UK are run by teaching assistants or by catering staff (1).
Founded in 2003, Magic Breakfast runs in 480 Primary, Secondary and ASL/Special Educational Needs schools in England and Scotland and offer; porridge, cereals (low sugar, low salt), special recipe bagels, and unsweetened juice. According to the Magic Breakfast website, in the academic year 2017/18 Magic Breakfast provided; 2,884,512 bagels; 2,016,727 bowls of cereal; 1,765,446 glasses of juice and 242,705 bowls of porridge. The charity also runs 'Magic Breakfast 365', a holiday hunger scheme. More information about Magic Breakfast can be found at the bottom of the page (2).
Magic Breakfast also help run the National School Breakfast Programme, in partnership with Family Action and funded by the Department for Education. The programme will operate in 1,775 schools within key disadvantaged communities. The scheme will allow schools to receive tailored support, advice, a grant, free food and resources to help improve breakfast provision (3).
There are also breakfast clubs run by: Greggs (4), who provide 465 schools on their scheme with fresh bread and a grant to support start-up and ongoing costs; Kellogg’s (5), who offer e-newsletters which feature competitions, activities and practical ideas for running an effective Breakfast Club along with a grant for more disadvantaged schools and you can also apply product donations (6) from Warburtons to help with Breakfast Clubs.
Throughout the UK there are various schemes in place to aid the planning and running of a breakfast club:
- A-step-by-step guide to the ups and downs of setting up and running breakfast clubs in Scotland; Breakfast Clubs... More of a Head Start. More information can be found here https://www.communityfoodandhealth.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/breakfastclub-0632.pdf
- Department for Education’s findings of a programme to run breakfast clubs in schools with high levels of deprivation showed that breakfast clubs were perceived to improve concentration, pupils’ social development and behaviour in class and reduce hunger. Read more about the research here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/breakfast-clubs-in-high-deprivation-schools
- There has also been research, in 2015, on the advantages and disadvantages of Breakfast Clubs according to parents, children, and school staff in the North East of England which can be found here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4457018/
- In March 2018, the government announced that it was investing £26 million into breakfast clubs run by the charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast in social mobility and opportunity areas in England.
- For more information from the UK government on: ‘How do schools set up and sustain successful breakfast clubs?’, visit https://bit.ly/2EDk5d6.
- Breakfast clubs in Northern Ireland are covered by the nutritional standards for other food and drinks in schools. The extended schools programme is a route for funding for schools to deliver a breakfast club, however criteria is strict and funding is limited. Many schools may manage and deliver their own breakfast club without this funding.
- Information on the Northern Ireland Extended schools programme which includes breakfast clubs can be found here https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/articles/extended-schools-programme
- Guidance on the provision of healthy breakfast clubs in Northern Ireland can be found here http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/Healthier%20Breakfast%20clubs%2009_10.pdf
- In Wales, local authorities must provide schools with free breakfasts if the schools ask for them, unless it is unreasonable to do so. For more information on the Welsh Free Breakfast in Primary Schools scheme, visit https://beta.gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2018-03/free-breakfast-in-primary-schools.pdf
- Wales also have the highest proportion of school breakfast clubs government funded1
References and useful links
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