Free School Meals: Summer Holidays

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:03 pm on 16th June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Griffith Andrew Griffith Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 5:03 pm, 16th June 2020

My hon. Friend makes, characteristically, the apposite point. I want to thank all the teachers and heads across West Sussex for their huge efforts made all year round, but particularly during the pandemic. I am pleased to report that all schools in my constituency of Arundel and South Downs are open to at least some year groups. In particular, I want to pay tribute to the parents, pupils and staff at Clapham and Patching school in my constituency, who only yesterday learned the wonderful news that they have saved their 200-year-old village school from closure. I congratulate the excellent South Downs Education Trust, which put forward the successful proposal to maintain the school.

As other Members have said, a hungry child is not a learning child, and is a tragedy that we should not accept in our society. I welcome the Government’s announcement today adding to their very extensive support in this area. I want to highlight the national school breakfast programme, which gives thousands of children in some of the most deprived areas the opportunity to attend a breakfast club. That programme so far reaches 1,800 schools and serves a free nutritious breakfast every school day to 280,000 children.

It is working. A systematic review of the effects of breakfast carried out by the University of Leeds found a positive correlation between breakfast consumption and children’s cognitive function, including improvements in a child’s attention, memory and executive function. In 2016, the Education Endowment Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies carried out a randomised control trial and found that pupils in schools supported by the school breakfast programme made an amazing two months of additional academic progress over the course of a single year. In supporting today’s motion, I congratulate the Government on that valuable scheme, as well as thanking the charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast for all that they do to deliver it.