SUFFOLK could introduce free breakfasts for primary school pupils in a bid to improve attainment levels.

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Education chiefs are monitoring a pilot scheme in Blackpool in which 12,000 schoolchildren have been given free meals to start the day.

Graham Newman, cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council, said the scheme could form part of the Raising the Bar initiative.

The push aims to raise attainment, better identify what skills Suffolk firms need and adapt teaching accordingly.

Figures released last month revealed Suffolk is now ranked the third worst-performing authority in the country when it comes to primary education.

Mr Newman said: “I need to look at Blackpool and look at the results and see where we can go with it.

“But it could be part of the Raising the Bar initiative. Everyone is up for trying out and testing new things. Clearly some new things have to be looked at.

“We have to see what results Blackpool have got – if it’s good we should look at how we can facilitate it.”

Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We’ve got some specific circumstances – a third of our families are below the poverty line and there is long-standing anecdotal evidence about children coming in so hungry they just sit and wait for the lunch bell to go.

“As times get tougher in terms of the recession we felt now was the time to act. It’s a three-month pilot project but I hope it goes well beyond that.”

Magic Breakfast, a charity that provides free food to 6,000 schoolchildren a day, says 93pc of teachers reported breakfast clubs have led to better concentration in class.

Schools are given a “pupil premium” by the Government for the most disadvantaged children but it is up to headteachers whether or not that funding is spent on breakfast clubs.

Suffolk-based Chris Harrison, former president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Suffolk is focusing very heavily on raising the level of attainment, particularly with primary-age children.

“Schools will always want to, as far as possible, create a level playing field so learning can take place. If children arrive hungry they are not ready and fit to learn.”

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the NUT, said: “I’m not jumping up and down [about this initiative] but I’m not condemning it either.

“But Suffolk should look at it as a principle, talk to individual teachers and see what they think and see whether that money is better spent on resources or breakfast clubs.”

8 comments

  • Smaller class size, better teaching and better facilities - what about a 3 tier system, that should improve results!! Why look at what skills Suffolk firms need and adapt teaching accordingly. Mr Newman should understand there is a National curriculum and that all pupils in Suffolk schools may want to work elsewhere. Another ill thought out scheme!!! How about trying someone else in charge of education - that might work,

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    Grumpygramp

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Slow off the mark again Mr N...this idea has been around for ages...you should get out more and talk to teachers about the difference that smaller class sizes would make...rather than this gimmick!

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    Dogberry

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • @Grumpygramp - you are absolutely right about the lack of vision in better identification of "what skills Suffolk firms need" and adapting teaching accordingly. In the Lowestoft area it has always been difficult for anyone wanting a decently paid and interesting job to find work locally. Many of us have moved away to study and pursue careers since the 1950s - if not before. Universities, the professions, creative, high tech, scientific and precision engineering industries are under-represented in the area and so do not provide obvious role models or work experience opportunities. Schools need to equip our children with the core skills to succeed in whatever employment route they choose - and to make sure that they are aware that there is a world outside their own small circle, and that of reality television and football. It is the job of firms taking on school-leavers to train them for their specific line of work. I would say that Breakfast Clubs could well be a useful step in improving attainment - particularly if they are used as an opportunity to teach a few social skills too.

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    point du jour

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Free breakfasts??? Try better teaching and facilities to improve grades; maybe 3 tier would help too. What is the idea of looking at what skills Suffolk firms need and adapting teaching accordingly. Doesn't Mr Newman know there is a National Curriculum and that some of todays pupils may even want to seek jobs outside Suffolk. What nonesense. The only way up is to change the current SCC education leaders.

    Report this comment

    Grumpygramp

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Free breakfasts??? Try better teaching and facilities to improve grades; maybe 3 tier would help too. What is the idea of looking at what skills Suffolk firms need and adapting teaching accordingly. Doesn't Mr Newman know there is a National Curriculum and that some of todays pupils may even want to seek jobs outside Suffolk. What nonesense. The only way up is to change the current SCC education leaders.

    Report this comment

    Grumpygramp

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • ...Nanny State or what..?

    Report this comment

    Dogberry

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Some teachers and schools have their work cut out because some children have a tough life at home mixed with bad parenting, the teachers have to pick up the pieces.

    Report this comment

    BlueRobin

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • what a waste of time nanny state or what ! study hard and with a lot of luck you may find a job. work ethics that is what is needed to be taught.

    Report this comment

    Paul

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

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