The importance of Blackpool’s controversial free school breakfast scheme has been highlighted by a new survey, town hall leaders claimed today.
A survey carried out for cereal firm Kellogg’s, claims 820,000 children across the country go to school without breakfast while a quarter of teachers surveyed had seen an increase in the number of children who turned up hungry.
Polling firm YouGov spoke to 762 teachers across the country over eight days to compile the Kellogg’s research.
The teachers revealed the hungriest children disrupt classes and lose more than eight weeks of learning during primary school because of their lack of focus.
Blackpool Council launched its free breakfast scheme for primary school children in January as a pilot before extending it at a cost of £1.3m and Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of the authority, says the report illustrates the reasons behind it. He said: “I’m proud to say that in Blackpool, there is no reason for a child to come to school hungry.
“When you look at the figures that have been released today, some people might say they are shocking but they are exactly the reason why we have introduced the free breakfast scheme.
“I could not just sit by and ignore hungry children who weren’t learning at school because they hadn’t had a healthy breakfast.
“Our scheme levels the playing field for all children so they are able to learn effectively when the school bell rings. It means that teaching hours aren’t lost and children aren’t left behind.
“I welcome the report, which shows the importance of what we are doing.”
Since the start of the scheme – which gives children the option to have a drink, cereal, toast, bagels or malt loaf – more than 11,000 breakfast have been served up in 33 schools.
However, Coun Tony Williams, leader of the council’s Conservative Group, says the scheme requires some changes.
He said: “I support the sentiment but I would like to see more organised breakfast clubs.
“It could offer a more conducive attitude to children by including homework classes and ensuring they brush their teeth. The whole scheme in Blackpool has not been thought out in-depth because it could deliver even more benefits. It needs re-visiting if it is going to be successful.”
The Conservative group has previously criticised the scheme, saying the money would be better spent on placing social workers in schools.