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).
The National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP) is funded by the Department for Education and delivered by Family Action to support schools in England to provide children with a healthy breakfast at the start of the school day. The programme will run from July 2021 to July 2023, providing schools with up to 2 years of support to run a successful and affordable school breakfast provision. The offer is available to all schools that have 40% or more children in IDACI bands A-F.
Magic Breakfast works with over 1,000 Primary, Secondary and ASL/Special Educational Needs schools, plus Pupil Referral Units, offering breakfasts to over 200,000 children each school day. Their partner schools are in most counties in England. In Scotland they work with 38 schools. For a school in England to be eligible, at least 35% of pupils should be recorded as eligible for Pupil Premium. A Primary School in Scotland qualifies for Magic Breakfast support when at least 55% of pupils are in SIMD Deciles 1 to 4 and/or at least 35% are eligible for FSM. A Secondary School qualifies for support when at least 40% of pupils are in SIMD Deciles 1 to 4.
There are also breakfast clubs run by: Greggs, who provide 680 schools on their scheme with fresh bread and a grant to support start-up and ongoing costs; Kellogg’s, 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 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:
- 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/
- 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
- 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
- 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
Reviewed and updated 28.01.22
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