DfE announces funding boost to support breakfast clubs

More than 1,770 schools set to benefit from £26m to boost breakfast clubs in disadvantaged areas

Education secretary Damian Hinds has announced a £26m investment to ensure that more children across the UK have access to a healthy and nutritious breakfast and also announced the appointment of two leading charities to run the morning clubs.

The new soft drinks industry levy will be used to fund the breakfast provision and will benefit over 1,770 schools across the country, the government has said.

The investment seeks to target the most disadvantaged areas – including the DfE’s Opportunity Areas – and to ensure that every child gets the best start in their school day and in life.

Family Action and Magic breakfast have been named as the charities to run the clubs. Family Action supports 45,000 of the most vulnerable families each year, while Magic Breakfast – which ran the department’s previous breakfast club programme – has supported the provision of breakfasts to over 31,500 children across 550 schools.

As part of the funding, experts at Family Action and Magic Breakfast will also look at how they can encourage more children to attend these programmes and improve collaboration and sharing of best practice across schools.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “A healthy breakfast can help fuel children’s concentration so they can get the most out of their school day.

“Children only get one chance at an education and they deserve the best, whatever their background. That is why we are giving more pupils in some of the country’s most disadvantaged areas the chance to go to a breakfast club.

“Paid for by the government’s soft drinks levy, this investment will help raise education standards further and will make sure young people have happy, healthy childhoods.”

The new clubs are due to start this spring. As well as providing a healthy and nutritious meal, many will also offer children the chance to be more active and develop their knowledge and skills through extra-curricular activities to improve their learning.

Today’s announcement is part of the government’s drive to support an active and healthy childhood through the Childhood Obesity Plan. It builds on the recent doubling of the Primary PE and Sport Premium to £320m a year to improve PE and sport in schools, alongside the £100m Healthy Pupils Fund to help young people live healthier lifestyles.

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The announcement today follows wider support for the most disadvantaged families provided by the government, including the provision of free school meals to 1.1 million of the most disadvantaged children, the launch of new pilots to support disadvantaged families in the holidays and the £2.5bn funding given to schools through the Pupil Premium to support their education.

The breakfast provision will be focused in areas of disadvantage, with a particular focus on in the DfE Opportunity Areas. The 12 Opportunity Areas are receiving a share of £72m to help create opportunities and raise education standards in parts of the country where children and young people face greater challenges.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It is disappointing that, hot on the heels of the government failing to extend free school meals to millions of families in poverty, they have now abandoned a manifesto commitment to give every primary school child a free breakfast.

“The funding announced today is far less than originally promised and will only affect a few children. School leaders see so many children arrive at school hungry and unable to learn – a nutritious meal is vital for their wellbeing and education.”

“Meanwhile, we know that not all children who are eligible for free school meals claim them – currently one in ten eligible children miss out. Auto-registration for free school meals would mean that more children get the support they are entitled to, as well as boosting Pupil Premium funding to support their education.”

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