Local MP Alex Cunningham endorsed the National School Breakfast Programme, which is providing free school breakfasts in nine schools in Stockton North, at a reception in Parliament this week.
The National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP), delivered by charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast, has already reached 1,775 schools in disadvantaged areas across England and is providing free and nutritious breakfasts to an estimated 280,000 children every school day.
It ensures that none of these children start the day too hungry to learn, reduces educational attainment gaps between pupils and supports pupils to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.
The NSBP also contributes to social mobility by giving every child the chance to excel at school and to achieve their own unique potential, regardless of their socioeconomic background. Across the whole Programme, an average of 153 children per school benefit from the Programme’s bespoke breakfast provision.
Speaking about the Programme, Alex said:
“I believe it is incredibly important that children are not prevented from learning due to empty stomachs distracting them.
“The National School Breakfast Programme targets those children most in need and ensures that they have the best start to the day in order to perform better in the classroom. This programme isn’t just about feeding children, but making sure that they have the physical and mental strength to achieve to the best of their ability.”
An evaluation of the Magic Breakfast model, upon which the NSBP is based, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found 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. These benefits were observed not just in the pupils eating breakfast at school, but also their peers.
Teachers surveyed also reported that breakfast provision improved behaviour, alertness and concentration amongst pupils who might otherwise be missing out on a whole morning of learning.
The NSBP seeks to give every child the chance to excel at school and to make sure that everyone has the chance to reach their potential. The Programme is currently scheduled to close in March 2020 and it is hoped that the Government will decide to extend this successful initiative.