Parents 'failing to give children breakfast'

Breakfast Four in five teachers say they have seen pupils arriving without breakfast

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Parents without the "time or inclination" to make breakfast for their children are blamed by teachers for more pupils going to school hungry.

A survey from Kellogg's found that four out of five teachers in England have seen examples of pupils starting school without having eaten any breakfast.

"Parental apathy" was identified as the biggest single cause - followed by a shortage of money.

Almost a third of teachers have brought in their own food to feed pupils.

According to the survey, about one in six primary teachers are spending £24.99 per month of their own money on food for their pupils.

Last month, teachers at a primary school in Bristol took over the funding of breakfasts for 130 pupils after a charity providing the meals went bust.

Breakfast club

Kellogg's is best known for its cereal brands - but a spokeswoman emphasised that this was not about promoting its own goods, but was a response to its own grassroots work in schools.

The firm's charitable trust has been funding school breakfast clubs, where pupils can get subsidised meals, since 1998.

At present it is supporting more than 500 breakfast clubs across England - but says it is receiving a rising number of requests from other schools worried that pressure on budgets will force the closure of their breakfast clubs.

Start Quote

Some children at our school don't have their first meal of the day until lunchtime”

End Quote Gill Harding Primrose Hill Community Primary School, Manchester

A report from Kellogg's, accompanying the survey of 500 teachers' experiences, says that without breakfast clubs many more pupils would miss out on a meal in the morning.

More than half of teachers believed that the problem of children arriving hungry at school was getting worse.

They believed that a lack of money is a major problem for some families - but a bigger problem was the failure or inability of parents to provide a breakfast for their children.

"This means that, in many families, parents are leaving children to fend for themselves in the morning. This is because some parents simply don't have the time or inclination to prepare breakfast, let alone supervise their children or encourage them to eat it," says the report.

This problem is worse among primary pupils, says the Kellogg's report, because they find it harder than secondary pupils to "fend for themselves".

The lack of food before school - or only snacking on unhealthy food - means that pupils arrive unable to concentrate and more likely to behave badly, say teachers in the survey.

Gill Harding, head teacher at Primrose Hill Community Primary School, Manchester, says in the report: "Some children at our school don't have their first meal of the day until lunchtime.

"Often this is because their parents aren't aware of what a healthy breakfast is, which is why many children - and their parents - turn up at school eating a large chocolate bar with a can of fizzy pop. In other homes, parents simply don't get up early enough to prepare it."

Karin Woodley, head of the ContinYou education charity, said: "Many families are really struggling financially and, in extreme cases, this means that there simply isn't enough food to go round. Breakfast clubs can provide a lifeline for these families so we're extremely concerned to hear that many are being forced to close."

The issue of poor diet among school children prompted a campaign by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver - and saw the introduction of strict nutritional guidelines.

But Mr Oliver has attacked the decision to allow academies not to comply with these guidelines.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said it was "worrying" to hear of any child going hungry, insisting that the government had protected the schools budget and introduced the pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged pupils.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    How much does a box of Weetabix or Porridge Oats cost?. Not a Lot. I think some parents (I use that term loosely) have no care in their Childrens upbringing and would sooner spend their money on fags, drink and Sky tv. It's a question of priorities not money. I would never let my children go hungry, no matter what.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    There are no excuses. One kilogram of Tesco brand porridge oats, for example, costs £1 and can last for two to three weeks. If the children don't like the taste, add a little sugar for flavour. Children are not commodoties, it's time parents across all income brackets started treating them as their own flesh and blood.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    This morning I purchased a box of porridge oats, £2 for 12 sachets. That's roughly 16 pence per day, or 80p per school week. Are you seriously trying to tell me that even those on benefits struggle to find 80p per week for their child? Parents who fail to provide basic care for their children should be taken to task. It's not the fault of the Government, it's the parents. No question.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Wouldn't this be child neglect? My parents were ordinary working people (a school cleaner & a railwayman) but I never went hungry & certainly never missed breakfast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    I am a single working Dad, and no one leaves the house until they have had Cereal or toast. Sometimes (Well everyday) that means getting up a bit earlier to get it. If someone does not want breakfast then toys start to disappear as they are fined for not doing what they should. They change their mind as the favorite teddy is held over the bin. Tough, but food comes first. And fines work it seems..


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