Policy roundtable on school breakfasts at Westminster
Free school breakfasts – will the government prioritise or pass up? Decipher’s Dr. Hannah Littlecott visited the House of Commons to discuss.
September 2019 I travelled, by invitation, to the House of Commons to
contribute to a policy roundtable discussion on the provision of free school
breakfasts. I was invited by an organisation called Magic
Breakfast, founded by Carmel McConnell MBE. During the meeting, we heard
from a variety of stakeholders, such as a school principal who outlined her
experience of delivering school breakfasts and her perceptions of how they have
impacted upon health and wellbeing and education.
I was also asked
to give a five-minute overview of our research showing a link between breakfast
consumption and educational outcomes among 9-11 year old children (https://bit.ly/2m0DbRm).
This research used data from DECIPHer’s policy trial of the Free School
Breakfast Initiative in Wales in 2005, which was referenced as good practice in
the Treasury’s 2011 Magenta Handbook (https://bit.ly/2Qu862E)
and found that the universal provision of free school breakfasts improved
children’s nutritional intake and decreased breakfast skipping among more
deprived students (https://bit.ly/2ljHY0s).
In attendance at
the policy roundtable discussion were MP Nicky Morgan and MP Angela Raynor, so
this provided a real chance to use our research findings to advocate for
government funding for universal free school breakfast and to highlight that
efforts to improve both education and health are aligned. It was brilliant to
see so many school breakfast advocates in one room, all putting forward
eloquent and convincing arguments and providing a unique opportunity for the UK
nations to learn from each other.
By the end of the
meeting, it seemed obvious that everyone agreed breakfast provision was a good
idea that provided good ‘bang for your buck’ in relation to health and
educational outcomes. It remains to be seen whether this will translate to
Government policy but, since this meeting was prioritised during a particularly
chaotic Brexit-related week in parliament, I am hopeful that this will be the
support Magic Breakfast’s Fuel Their Future campaign by using this campaigner
to take action, such as tweeting and writing to your local MP, before 13th
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