As a Conservative I am credulous in assuming that Government is the solution not the problem. However, I am pleased to support the School Breakfast Bill being presented by Emma Lewell-Buck MP on the 13th October for three reasons:
(1) It is evidence-led
School breakfast provision is positively correlated with improved education outcomes. An Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) evaluation found that Key Stage 1 (KS1) pupils in schools with a universal, free school breakfast provision made an additional two months academic progress. The University of Leeds similarly found that children who ate breakfast regularly achieved an average of 2 GCSE grades higher than children who rarely ate breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast also plays a role in improving nutrition and reducing obesity.
(2) It is good value for money and achieves its results at modest cost
The estimated cost of this would be around £95 million per annum which is a very small proportion of the £1 billion commitment in The Conservative Manifesto for before-school and after-school childcare. The means to achieve this would be an amendment to the Education Act requiring schools with 50% or more of pupils in IDACI bands A-F to provide a free school breakfast to all pupils and guaranteeing these schools adequate funding to do so.
(3) It is a simple, focussed and effective intervention
Unlike many large government programmes and initiatives, providing a school breakfast requires very little infrastructure, bureaucracy or DfE overhead. Funding can be administered through the National Funding Formula, the efforts of existing school staff can be mobilised and impact can be simply and quickly achieved.
Full details of this initiative can be found on the website of the Charity Magic Breakfast at www.magicbreakfast.com