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Free school breakfasts at risk, as Alex calls for Government funding commitment

Thousands of the most vulnerable children across Teesside could lose their free school breakfast every school day from next April after the Government refused to guarantee funding.

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has called on the Government to commit to continue funding the National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP) after March 2020 – stating that failure to do so would have a detrimental effect on children’s education.

The NSBP is active in 1,775 schools – 9 of them in Alex’s Stockton North constituency – and provides free and nutritious breakfasts to 280,000 children nationwide. An average of 153 children in Stockton North currently benefit from the programme.

A major part of the NSBP is to boost educational attainment, with an evaluation of the Magic Breakfast model carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies finding that children in primary schools where free, universal breakfast is provided achieve an average of two months additional academic progress in reading and maths over the course of a year compared to children in schools with no such provision in place.

Speaking at Education Questions, Alex asked

Will the Government continue to fund the National School Breakfast Programme after April?

In response the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Education, Nadhim Zahawi MP, simply told Alex that all funding decisions would examined during the Chancellor’s Spending Review, leaving the future of the NSBP up in the air.

Speaking afterwards, Alex said

The findings are clear that a nutritious breakfast reduce educational attainment gaps between pupils and support children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits. Without a guarantee of funding, children in our most disadvantaged areas will lose out – not just when it comes to breakfast, but when it comes to ensuring they can achieve their own unique potential, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

I’m urging the Government to commit further funding to this hugely important programme