Breakfast clubs axed, teacher handouts…. the scandal of hungry children in our schools

A study released by Kellogg's tells us of the importance of breakfast in education, writes Fiona Twycross AM.


Fiona Twycross AM is a Londonwide Labour Member of the London Assembly; for details of the consultation on food poverty in London go to

Did you eat breakfast today? If not it is probably (I hope) because you chose not to. Across Britain, thousands of children among the millions of children growing up in income poverty do not have that choice.

You would expect a cereal manufacturer to want children to eat breakfast, but Kelloggs recently published the results of a survey undertaken in August this year of 500 teachers across the UK, which demonstrated starkly why this is important.

Almost 80% of the teachers surveyed thought pupils were coming to school hungry and more than 30% of teachers had taken food in to give to children who were hungry.

Major issues associated with children not having breakfast include poor behaviour, lower educational attainment, a decrease in concentration and an increase in ill health, tiredness and lethargy. It is not rocket science to conclude breakfast clubs can contribute to making the lives of our most vulnerable children – and their long term prospects – better.

Last week, I visited a breakfast club at Woodberry Down Community School, in Hackney, as part of an investigation I am undertaking at the London Assembly into food poverty in London.

The breakfast club is run by Kerry, who attended the school herself and who commutes in from Essex. She told us a particular favourite with the children is hot tinned spaghetti and many of the children who attend the club only get hot food in school.

A brother and sister said if they don’t come to the breakfast club, they don’t get breakfast because there is no food in the house.

The school has an inspiring head teacher who described how she had seen a transformation in a group of siblings who were coming to school hungry once she persuaded their mother to send them to the breakfast club. Having been tired, lethargic and withdrawn the children were now confident and performing better.

She said, however, they are seeing a rise in poverty in the school – this means more hungry children. In order to expand their provision, the school is working with the charity Magic Breakfast as part of a project funded by the Mayor’s Fund.

This is providing additional funding for 50 breakfast clubs in the seven most deprived wards in London. This equates to just 2.5% of schools in London and across the country we are seeing, as Sharon Hodgson MP’s FOI research demonstrated, a cut to funding for foodbanks by councils.

Magic Breakfast say a third of children regularly miss breakfast and on their model – which relies partly on donated and cost price goods – it costs just 22p to feed a child at a breakfast club.

There is much debate about the changes to the education system and it is going through radical change. On the doorstep in Rotherhithe last weekend a teacher working in an inner city school described how she saw the effective dismantling of the comprehensive education service in words of one syllable.

We need to address structural issues but to do so will be meaningless unless we address the scandal of hungry children in our schools.

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29 Responses to “Breakfast clubs axed, teacher handouts…. the scandal of hungry children in our schools”

  1. hyyh

    “A brother and sister said if they don’t come to the breakfast club, they don’t get breakfast because there is no food in the house.”

    I suppose their parents just absorb nutrients from the atmosphere?

  2. steve jones

    I wouldn’t get too involved. Maybe it’s another culture to not have breakfast. Maybe its Ramadan. Maybe having breakfast before school is an English thing and applying it to other people is cultural imperialism. Basically I couldn’t give a flying f#ck if other people feed their children or not.

  3. uncle joe

    ps your ‘evidence based blog’ has a link that looks like it is the survey but it’s just another crap left foot forward article where there is another link to a news story about the survey. why don’t you just link to the survey? you have read it haven’t you?

  4. bertrand russell

    it must be one of the rules of parenting that you feed your own kids! and if you don’t maybe they’ll die and your dumbf’ck genes won’t carry on. sounds like evolution to me!

  5. Newsbot9

    Yes, thanks to the troll who posted four posts under different names.

    Back in reality, a quick glance at Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows hungry kids won’t learn. I’m sure the Tory troll is happy with that, can’t have the peons working for above minimum wage after all!

  6. stew

    interesting that you don’t have a link to where Mazlow shows that hungry kids won’t learn.

    or are you talking out of your arse again?

  7. Newsbot9

    So you don’t know the first thing about it, I see.

    Let’s see, from the FIRST page of the google search you haven’t made, let’s pull a couple of links…

    Yes, it’s THAT basic. First tier: food, water.
    Learning? Is a form of self-actualization, of course.

    As usual, arse, you’re simply trying to suppress learning by peons. Why, they might take the jobs reserved for your class!

  8. stew

    and on the wiki link's_hierarchy_of_needs

    it has food on the same level as sex. so all school kids should be encouraged to have sex before school or they can’t learn?

    now, please post a link that says”Mazlow shows that hungry kids won’t learn”

  9. Newsbot9

    So you haven’t read the links I gave. And you’re using wikipedia, showing the extent of your “research”.

    Last try, to see if you are a murderous zealot set on killing millions of the British poor;

    Let’s google “hungry children cannot learn maslow”, again because you’re a lazy arse by your own words;

  10. stew

    do you have a link to where “Mazlow shows that hungry kids won’t learn” or not?

  11. Newsbot9

    Okay, killer stewpot, who’s named himself after your aims…. How many million must die for your blood god? No evidence can sway you because what matters is you can kill off the poor, it seems. Sad.

    I’ll keep asking that. I expect I’ll keep asking across a long, time time given your apparent illiteracy.

  12. Patrick

    What we need is to stop these children being born in the first place. Their parents don’t have the skills, the means or the desire to take care of them properly. London is overpopulated with too much demand on public services. The population has grown in London by 12% in just 10 years. And answer me this: if children are really so amazing and valuable, where do all the lazy, vicious, feckless and moronic adults come from? Yes, they are the children their parents didn’t really want and couldn’t bring up properly. And it is precisely those people who are least able to take care of them that have the largest families. I know how much socialists like state control of people’s lives, so they should adopt a law to enforce maximum children in a family to two. Let’s have fewer people, but better ones.

  13. treborc1

    Why did Labour feel the need to have a breakfast club or breakfast in school, we all lived without it for years. One thing was of course was labours plan to get mothers back to work, breakfast club open in my area at 7.30 drop off your kids go to work, saves mother feeding the kids they get a piece of soggy toast or good solid sugar puffs, and a cold class of pop squash or orange juice.

    pretty god plan really so long as you have the jobs.

  14. stew

    neither of which links substantiate your point that

    “Mazlow shows that hungry kids won’t learn”

    I went to school hungry for 10 years and have a PhD in theoretical physics. That disproves either you or Mazlow

  15. Newsbot9

    Except, of course, they do both explicitly state that.

    You are lying about a doctorate, pathetic. You’re nothing but a shill, and one who has no concept of research for that matter, one who rejects science.

    Ah yes, you’re a banker.

  16. stew

    and can you point out the passages that justify your claim that “Mazlow shows that hungry kids won’t learn” because I can’t find them and I believe they don’t exist.

    The first link contains 1 reference to Maslow…”Maslow’s hierarchy of

    needs tells us that intense learning (the kind that

    translates into closing the achievement gap for

    our students) first requires the fulfillment of a

    whole range of basic physiological and

    psychological needs—needs such as nutrition,

    sleep, health, and security.”

    which doesn’t back you up.The second link is to as 132 page slideshow which I am not going to search through – so if you could point me to the specfic part you had in mind?

  17. Newsbot9

    Of course that backs me up. Read the statement you quoted again. And do a simple text search on the second.

    You can’t even admit you’re wrong when you quote the section which supports exactly what I said. It’s pathetic, banker. How many billion has your “logic” cost?

  18. stew

    we all need nutrition. if we don’t we die. you said that “Mazlow shows that hungry kids won’t learn” and that quote does not back that up and neither does my experience of having gone to school hungry. in fact quite the opposite, learning after lunch was always much harder. but being hungry does not mean you are malnourished

  19. Newsbot9

    You’re managing to ignore the entire point of the hierarchy of needs quite nicely, as you’re being paid to do I see.

    You’re trying, moreover, to use anecdote to disprove science. It’s pathetic, I’d suggest your handlers demand a refund.

    And no, but you’re certainly trying to cause malnourishment here, banker.

  20. newton

    not an anecdote to disprove science, but a fact to disprove a hypothesis. the hypothesis that “hungry kids won’t learn” can be disproved, as can any hypothesis, by a single fact.

    single observations in science have brought down well established theories before. that the speed of light is an absolute disproved the ether, that the orbit of Mercury didn’t agree with Newtonian dynamics, that the photoelectric effect can’t be understood if light is simply a wave etc etc

    now. have you any evidence that hungry kids can’t learn? I learned best when I was hungry.

  21. Newsbot9

    As usual, you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re snatching food from kids. I wasn’t proposing a scientific hypothesis, I was pointing a practical, tested piece of information.

    You’re abusing science to excuse not feeding children. It’s pathetic. And yes, I know, you think that a single anecdote is data, showing how much of a liar you are about your involvement with science.

    (Not to mention your PERCEPTION of learning | learning!)

  22. stew

    “I wasn’t proposing a scientific hypothesis, I was pointing a practical, tested piece of information.”

    and yet you fail to provide a link

  23. Newsbot9

    Newton / stewport- I have provided it, shill. You’ve rejected the evidence, as you would any evidence, because that’s what you are paid to do.

    Keep up the paid shilling!

  24. Patrick

    How do you claim to know this precisely? And furthermore, why would anybody pay someone to post comments here? Hardly anybody reads it anyway. The only person who posts with any regularity is you. It’s a ridiculous proposition.

  25. Newsbot9

    How would I know, Patrick/Newton/Stewpot? Well, it’s called blindingly obvious, given your writing style.

    And yes, that’s right, it’s ridiculous that so many dedicated /concern/ trolls would show up at the same time…thanks for backing me up.

    That you try and claim almost noone reads it (when in reality only a few comment) is typical as well. Gotta get paid, after all!

  26. patrick

    I can claim to be Newton and Stew, I’m not Patrick unless I’ve been sleepwalking.

    But I have to agree with him. Maybe some people are paid to support various causes anonamously – but if so nobody is going to pay anybody anything to do it on here. It would be cheaper to take every poster here out for a meal and talk them through ‘my employer’s point of view’

  27. Newsbot9

    “I’m not Patrick”

    Wrong account, eh?

    That rather does put a different light on your shilling, yes. That you try and talk about a completely different form of propaganda as “cheaper” is lol.

  28. stew

    whoops! anyway, we all have to make a living!

  29. Newsbot9

    …I appear to be rolling my eyes.

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