Free breakfasts for 12,000 primary school pupils launched
Thousands of children across Blackpool are now enjoying a healthy start to the day, tucking in to free breakfasts provided by Blackpool Council.
Around 12,000 primary school pupils will now be able to benefit from a pilot aimed to improve opportunities for children in the town.
Pupils at all Blackpool primary schools will now be provided with a range of healthy options for breakfast including fruit, yoghurt, toast, bagels, cereal bars and juice as well as continuing to receive free milk at morning break time.
The scheme will run as a pilot for three months and, it is hoped, will be extended throughout the school year.
Children at Devonshire Primary School were among some of the first to make the most of the breakfast scheme.
Shannon Wright, 9, from Layton, said: “I thought it was a really tasty breakfast. It’s a nice to eat breakfast with my friends. We don’t always have time for breakfast at home so it will be good for my family.”
Leanne Higgs, 11, added: “It is always a big rush in the mornings, and we don’t always get breakfast. Now we will definitely get food before lessons start.”
The pilot will run from January to April, when it is hoped to be rolled out for the school year.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The launch of this scheme is the culmination of a great deal of hard work to ensure that the children of Blackpool get the best possible start to their day and are able to maximise their ability to succeed in school.
“We hope that making sure young people are properly fed in the morning will help them to focus on learning and help teachers to do their job.
“There will be no discrimination between those families that can afford it and those that cannot, every pupil will be able to start their school day fed and ready to learn. It is really important that as many parents as possible take up this new service - it was save them cash every week that they can spend elsewhere in the local economy, and makes a huge collective effort to get our kids in school bright and early, and ready to learn.
"Our initial pilot covers free breakfasts and milk in primary schools but we would like to see this eventually extended to include secondary schools and universal free lunches. We need to create a generation of children who understand the importance of nutrition, who will then go on to provide that nutrition to their children.
“The idea has been well supported by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and welcomed by the Children’s Society, whose research suggests the scheme is much needed.
“This is a revolutionary project and one which shows that Blackpool Council cares passionately about the future of our young children and is working to ensure they get the best possible start in life.”
Headteacher at Devonshire Primary School, Neil Hodgkins, applauded the scheme, saying: “We see children in the morning who are lethargic and struggle to concentrate because they haven’t eaten properly.
"This scheme will help a lot to address those problems. “It will allow the children to make a great start to the school day, making the children more responsive and attentive to learning.”
The majority of Blackpool primary schools will be providing free breakfasts from today. Other schools will begin to provide free breakfasts by, at the latest, the start of the second half of the spring term.
The pilot is supported by research by the Children’s Society which revealed that half of UK teachers are seeing hungry children coming into school.
The report also found that, every day, more than half of the 2.2 million school children living in poverty in England miss out on a free school meal.
The President of the NAHT, Steve Iredale, said the scheme would have “a huge impact,” adding: “This is an issue on which central government and local government have got to sit down and act and we would be delighted to work with them on it.
“For too long it’s something we have reflected on, but now it’s time to do something about it.”