Schoolchildren and their parents were welcomed to the Dolphin School with a free bagel last Monday morning. The day saw the launch of the National School Breakfast Programme at the academy, which offers a free nutritious breakfast to every child before they start their day. Funded by the Department of Education and delivered by the charities ‘Magic Breakfast’ and ‘Family Action’, the 18 month scheme at the academy aims to improve concentration, alertness and overall behaviour of the children.
Research funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that when a free, nutritious breakfast is provided in schools, pupils’ reading, writing and maths learning was boosted by an average of 2 months’ progress per year. Laura Drage, teacher and Pupil Premium Lead at the Dolphin School, agreed that ‘having something nutritious for breakfast like a bagel will really help children have that feeling of being full on a morning, so that means that they’re going to be ready for their learning; it means that they’ll be able to concentrate better. We will hopefully be able to see them focus more, and not watching the clock until its break time or lunchtime as well.’
The Breakfast Programme will be carried out in the form of a grab-and-go bar in the school playground, where children can take a bagel and head up to their first lesson to start their day whilst having something to eat. ‘The routine will be really good for the children, they’ll know that when they get school there is something for them to eat, and that will get them ready to go up to their lessons for their learning,’ Laura explained.
As well as helping the students concentrate, the initiative hopes to improve attendance and punctuality as one mum agreed; ‘I think it’s brilliant. It’s an incentive to get them into the doors, it’s more inviting for everyone. My daughter woke up today thinking “It’s a bagel day today,” so even if it’s something really small at least something is getting into their bellies. As a parent it’s a really good incentive, it’s brilliant!’
The children definitely thought the breakfast scheme was a good idea, especially student Esme; ‘I think it’s fun, some people only have a small breakfast, but then when you come into school you realise you’re quite hungry so a bagel is great.’ Teaching assistant and parent of a pupil at the Dolphin School, Zainab Waheid also highlighted the benefits of the programme; ‘I think it’s great, its an extra bit on top of whatever they’ve had at home. It’s a great, healthy initiative to encourage children to arrive on time and look forward to getting to school. You can tell around lunchtime that they’re getting a bit hungry, we don’t know what they’ve had at home, so at least they’ve had a bit of a top up.’
David Holmes CBE, Chief Executive of Family Action, emphasises the importance of the scheme; ‘breakfast provision plays a key role in ensuring children have a healthy start to their day,’ and Mr Gruffydd, Year 2 teacher at the Dolphin School agreed. ‘It’s super important that children have a healthy start to the morning, thinking on an empty stomach is pretty tricky, so it gives everyone an extra boost in the morning. There is a scary amount of children who arrive, through all sorts of different reasons, without having eaten anything. It’s often mood and focus.’
It is clear from the reaction of the children on Monday morning that the breakfast scheme is going to be a success. The impact on attendance and overall behaviour is something everyone can look forward to in the coming weeks.
By Rebecca Chamberlain