‘Myself and many teachers feed children with bread or crackers’

A damning new survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has suggested that schools are being forced to shut down vital breakfast clubs as a direct result of the squeeze in public spending.

A damning new survey by the Association of  Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has suggested that schools are being forced to shut down vital breakfast clubs as a direct result of the squeeze in public spending.

The statistics show that breakfast clubs have decreased by 40 per cent despite a quarter of the 500 teachers surveyed stating that parents were having to rely on the service to feed their children because they could not afford to give them a decent meal.

Over three quarters (77 per cent) said that pupils attended the breakfast club because their parent or carer had to go out to work early.

A further 45 per cent of teachers surveyed thought pupils who attended breakfast club would not have any food before school otherwise.

Most appallingly, half of teachers said they brought in food for their pupils in the day and 66 per cent stated that they had purchased food for pupils because they were concerned that they were underfed.

One teacher claimed: “‘myself and many teachers in other schools feed children with bread or crackers in the morning from their own budget.”

Another stated that “they [the children] come to school and have not had breakfast. They take toast that they have not paid for because they are so hungry.’

The survey also found teachers reporting an increase in hunger in schools over the past two years, with 62 per cent stating that general poverty was the reason for the increase.

Teachers also firmly believe breakfast clubs are crucial to learning; two-thirds believed that the closure of their breakfast club would result in lower grades, 52 per cent said it would lead to a deterioration in pupil behaviour and 98 per cent understood that children who had eaten in the morning were able to concentrate better in lessons.

The DfE accept the importance of giving all children a decent morning meal, acknowledging that “breakfast clubs can improve children’s attendance, concentration, motivation and promote healthy eating habits”, but have done little to stem the diminishing service.

The ATL have their annual conference next week where they’ll attempt to lobby the government to spend more to prevent the on-going closures.

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