Wales

School hunger: Free breakfast pilot for secondary pupils

Close up of vegetables; students choosing food in school cafeteria - stock photo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some hungry secondary school pupils do not have enough money for both breakfast and lunch at school, campaigners say

Free breakfasts could be made available to secondary school pupils from poorer families.

The Welsh Government said a £450,000 pilot scheme starting in September would provide an extra allowance for Year 7 children receiving free school meals.

The idea is to help them pay for breakfast or a mid-morning snack as well as lunch.

The move follows concerns about secondary school pupils going hungry.

Primary school children in Wales are entitled to a free breakfast, although six councils do apply some charges to parents.

There have been calls to extend the scheme to older children.

The pilot aims to provide those pupils eligible for free school meals with "a healthy and nutritious breakfast... before they commence their school day or during the morning break".

Education Minister Kirsty Williams told the Assembly education committee she was responding to a problem identified by many head teachers and campaigners.

Image caption Kate Williams, deputy head of Ysgol y Grango, sees "the negativity around the children that don't have enough to eat".

The minister was asked how the scheme would avoid stigmatising children receiving free school meals if they were required to go to school early to claim their free breakfast.

She said the government would seek to "avoid that at all costs" and increasing the allowance for those pupils could help address this concern.

"We do only have a limited resource available to us, we do have to target that resource at the children that need it most", she told Assembly Members.

She said if the pilot was successful and the money available, the Welsh Government would look at extending the scheme.

In November, campaign group Together Creating Communities called for an increase in the free school meal allowance by 80p, saying many children were spending their allowance on breakfast and could not afford a proper meal at lunchtime.

Speaking at the time Steve Garthwaite, headteacher at Ysgol y Grango in Wrexham, said: "We're having to tackle pupil hunger by teachers digging into our own pockets."

Deputy head Kate Williams said she provided a "snack table" so any child who came to school hungry could have something to eat.

"All I see are the effects, the negativity that pervades around those kids that don't have enough to eat. Their lack of ambition, their lack of aspiration and I think all that can be attributed to the fact they're more concerned about being hungry."

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