Study found attending primary school breakfast clubs improved pupil progress– Friday 18 November 2016

This week I report on the EEF’s study on the positive impact providing a school breakfast club can have in primary schools, the opposition leader’s motion to stop schools collecting pupil nationality and country of birth data and £300 million government funding to help young people enjoy the benefits of music and the arts.

EEF funded study found positive impact from primary school breakfast clubs
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published the results of a randomised controlled trial which found that pupils in primary schools who attend breakfast clubs before school benefit from an improvement in their reading, writing and maths. The results are based on the Magic Breakfast project jointly funded by the Department for Education and the EEF.

An independent evaluation by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that:

  • year 2 pupils attending breakfast clubs experienced an improvement in reading, writing and maths equivalent of two months’ progress over the course of a year
  • year 6 pupils experienced a slightly smaller positive impact from attending breakfast clubs
  • teachers recognised an improvement in pupil behaviour and concentration and this may indirectly improve the outcomes for children who do not attend breakfast clubs

Offering breakfast clubs is seen as a cost-effective way to raise pupil attainment. Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the EEF stated that “offering free breakfasts at school is a relatively cheap and straightforward way of alleviating this symptom of disadvantage’’.

Parliamentary motion lodged to stop pupil nationality data collection
On Wednesday, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion in parliament to stop the practice of schools collecting pupil nationality and country of birth data. If it succeeds, the early day motion will cancel new laws introduced by the government in September forcing schools to collect the data in their annual census.

Ministers have sought to reassure parents that the additional data will not be used by the Home Office for immigration processes but to help schools to cope better with pupils with first languages other than English.

Under parliamentary procedure, the early day motion, or ‘prayer’, can be used to revoke legislation providing it gets enough support. Early day motions like this act as official public notice that the opposition is trying to secure a debate on an issue. A timetable for a potential debate and vote is yet to be finalised.

£300 million government investment to help young people enjoy the benefits of music and the arts
Today the Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced that over the next 4 years the government will provide £300 million (of which £75 million has already been announced for this year) to a network of 121 music education hubs to work with schools, local authorities and community organisations to get more young people taking part in music and arts. The funding will be administered by Arts Council England, which has a wealth of experience and strategic partnerships to improve music and cultural education for children.

The government will work to ensure that the funding particularly benefits children in the six (West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, Scarborough, Derby and Oldham) recently announced opportunity areas, identified as the most challenged when it comes to social mobility, to give those young people access to the best possible music and cultural education.