Blackpool's Devonshire Road School pupils enjoy free breakfast

Tammy Lea Tyrell
Image caption With four siblings Tammy Lea Tyrell said free breakfast at school was very useful

Pupils at a Blackpool primary school have given the thumbs up to a pilot scheme offering free breakfasts.

The £700,000 project is being offered to all 12,000 primary pupils in Blackpool, regardless of their family's finances.

Four hundred pupils at Devonshire Road Primary School got stuck in, on the first day of the three month trial.

Many pupils admitted they rarely have anything to eat or drink before school and those who did said it was rarely the healthy option.

"I don't often eat breakfast because I come from a large family and it can be rushed and a bit chaotic in the morning helping the little ones," said Tammy Lea Tyrell, 10, admitting she had really enjoyed it.

"Getting breakfast here is very useful."

After eating cereal with a banana and some apple juice, Tammy said she felt ready for the day ahead.

Jack Snee celebrated his 10th birthday by breakfasting with his school-mates.

Image caption Mr Moalt said he has given pupils fruit from his own lunchbox

"I normally just have cereal, but this morning I have had a bagel, orange juice and fruit.

"It's much better having it here - I hope it takes off."

While it has proved a hit with pupils, the scheme has come as a relief to the school's teachers.

Year 4 teacher Stephen Moalt, said children arriving at school without having breakfast has an adverse affect to their behaviour and their ability to learn.

"I have given children fruit out of my own lunchbox and it makes such a difference once they have had something to eat," said Mr Moalt.

"They get more involved and are more will willing to learn."

'KFC for breakfast'

Andrew Brannigan, who teaches year 5 pupils, has been at Devonshire Road School for 13 years and said food had always been an issue with pupils.

He said the problem is not just about children who skip breakfast, "it is about having the right breakfast, too".

"Some children say they have had last night's KFC for breakfast or a packet of custard creams and you can tell by their behaviour and hyperactivity," he said.

"That can then have an adverse affect on all the other kids in the class, too."

Head teacher Neil Hodgkins said it was a great initiative because hungry children have caused problems.

"Some children are lethargic in the morning and it can be a job getting them going," he said.

"This guarantees all pupils have a good start to the day and will make them more alert and attentive and will also benefit punctuality and attendance.

Image caption Teacher Andrew Brannigan said that often, if they actually have breakfast, pupils eat the wrong food

"It also promotes healthy eating and hopefully establishing good habits for life."

The scheme was masterminded by Blackpool Council leader, Simon Blackburn.

He wants to extend the three-month project to include secondary schools in the town, which is among the most deprived in England, and provide universal free lunches.

Although the authority is having to cut £13.5m from next year's budget and 300 jobs are under threat, Mr Blackburn said feeding hungry children in Blackpool was "a priority".

He refused to lay blame on parents and said the authority should step in to make sure youngsters are properly fed in the morning and help them to focus on learning.

Mr Blackburn said: "It is not the kids' fault and for a wild variety of reasons, because families are busy or stretched financially, it is not acceptable to have hungry kids."

He added he was in discussions with companies interested in providing sponsorship to help fund the scheme.

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