UK Schools forced to stop providing breakfast for students

SCHOOLS are being forced to axe breakfast clubs - with the result that poorer pupils are turning up for lessons hungry and unable to concentrate.

A survey of more than 500 teachers revealed that just over 20 schools had been forced to stop providing breakfasts for children as the effect of the squeeze on public spending begins to bite.

Next week delegates to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference will urge the Government to step in and stomp up the extra cash to keep them going.

The survey showed that almost half the teachers (45 per cent) believed that the pupils who attended breakfast clubs would not have any food before the start of the school day otherwise.

In addition, almost a quarter (23 per cent) believed that parents were having to rely on breakfast clubs to feed their children due to a shortage of cash caused by unemployment.

Over three-quarters (77 per cent) said pupils attended the breakfast club because their parent or carer had to go out to work early and needed to leave them in the care of the school - which was cheaper than paying for child-care.

A primary school teacher from Kent told researchers: "Although there is a charge for our breakfast club, we have accessed funding for those pupils on free school meals and the breakfast club has had an effect on their attendance, concentration and being in school for the start of lessons."

Judith Bainbridge, a primary  teacher from Durham, added: "A lot of pupils went to childcare before school but parents could not afford to do it any more and decided it was much cheaper to send them to school."

Almost every teacher (99.5 per cent) backed the Government's plan to introduce cookery lessons as part of the national curriculum, saying it was essential to instil healthy eating habits into today's young people.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: "Getting a good nutritious start to the day has a huge impact on children's ability to learn and concentrate at school."

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