Steve Cardownie: Breakfast clubs must be preserved

Today Edinburgh council's education, children and families committee will consider a report updating councillors on the development of breakfast clubs throughout the city's schools.

Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:00 am
Sammy Halliday, 9, and Becca North, 10, at Forthview Primary School's breakfast club (Picture: Toby Williams)
Sammy Halliday, 9, and Becca North, 10, at Forthview Primary School's breakfast club (Picture: Toby Williams)

The objective is that all children attending a mainstream primary school should have access to one.

The report indicates that significant progress has been made in this regard with breakfast clubs now being delivered in 87 of the council’s 88 primary schools and seven special schools and each day approximately 2,000 children attend a council-funded breakfast club within their own primary school. Many of the clubs are run by private providers and some are led by “not for profit” committees which, in tandem with the council, invest considerable effort in an attempt to ensure that children start the day with a healthy meal. This not only helps to reduce child poverty, it also boosts attainment levels with children better placed to participate in, and concentrate on, the school curriculum.

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The report says council-funded clubs with “income-generating potential are currently embedding a charging system to allow the sustainability of their breakfast club within their school” and, importantly, “free places are available in each club to ensure that families who require additional support will have their needs met”. The council will have to ensure that no families are left in a position where the club becomes unaffordable or its objectives will not be met.

But, given the drive and determination of all those involved, there is no reason to doubt that appropriate measures will be taken so that no one “falls through the net”.

The council and its partners are to be commended for providing this much-needed service which does so much to help children who need it most, contributing to their health, well-being and education..