Blackpool was the first local authority in the country to offer a free breakfast to every primary school child
Breakfast at Kincraig Primary School
Blackpool’s free breakfast scheme is marking a decade of providing pupils with a healthy start to their school day.
Around 30,000 primary school pupils have benefited from the scheme since it was launched in 2013, with the £800,000 annual cost funded by the council’s public health department. Blackpool was the first local authority in the country to offer a free breakfast to every primary school child, with every pupil entitled to join in the scheme which is not means tested.
Around 11,000 breakfasts a day are delivered with options including fruit, yoghurt, toast, cereal bars as well as pupils continuing to receive free milk at morning break time. The scheme initially ran as pilot for three months before being extended.
It was launched in response to concerns some children were turning up to school with empty stomachs – affecting both their health and ability to learn.
Blackpool Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: “We are so proud we have been able to run this scheme for the last 10 years, ensuring all of our primary school pupils are able to start the school day fed and ready to learn. As the cost of living crisis deepens it is more important than ever to make sure our young residents are able to learn and thrive.
“It is impossible for them to do this if they arrive at school hungry, unable to concentrate until lunchtime.”
The scheme was the brainchild of former council leader Coun Simon Blackburn who said he was pleased it had defied town hall cuts to survive.
He said: “I think the most notable feature of the school breakfast offer is that it has endured. It would have been very easy to offer it up as a budget saving cut, in any of the last 10 years – but the council has stuck with it.
“Long term change needs long term commitment. Next year we’ll see Blackpool pupils taking their GCSEs, who’ve benefited from the scheme throughout their entire time in education. It was never designed to be a panacea, that would solve all of the difficulties Blackpool pupils face, but we did understand that teaching hungry children was very hard.
“That problem, at least, has now been resolved.”
Karen Appleby, head teacher at Kincraig Primary School, said: “It’s vitally important for the children, as it is everyone, to have a breakfast. It sets them up for the day. Some children may not have eaten much since their lunch the previous day.
“It helps the children to concentrate and keep their energy levels up until lunchtime. It has also had an effect on our lates, which have reduced, as the children look forward to having their breakfast.
“It’s a lovely social time for the children and a good start to the day.”
Most schools provide pre-wrapped breakfast food which is eaten by pupils in the classroom during the first 10 minutes of the school day, with just a small number of schools providing a canteen service.
Coun Williams added: “Head teachers told us pupils were arriving lethargic and struggling to concentrate because they hadn’t eaten properly or even at all. We decided to take action and as a result we were the first local authority in the country to offer a free breakfast to every primary school child.
“We wanted to ensure every pupil had the opportunity to start the day right, there has been no difference between those families who can afford it and those who cannot.”
- 05:25, 30 JAN 2023