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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning] : 18th February 2013

 

Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Welsh Government Primary Free Breakfast Clubs

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Members on the current position relating to the provision of free breakfast clubs in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Recommendation

1.             Members note the position and support the continued roll out of free breakfast clubs across all primary schools.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             Breakfast provides the ideal opportunity for children to intake essential nutrients as part of their daily requirements which in some cases would be missed as not all pupils eat breakfast prior to leaving the home.

Background

2.             This Free School Breakfast initiative was introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government in September 2004 as a pilot scheme in a number of local authorities. This was later extended to all Councils with the Vale of Glamorgan's first free breakfast club commencing in September 2006.  

3.             The aim of this initiative is to provide children with a healthy start to the day, to stem the practice of skipping breakfast, improve health and concentration, help raise achievement and improve social skills.  The breakfast menu which is stipulated by WG consists of a choice of cereals (non sugar coated or chocolate covered) with semi skimmed milk, wholemeal toast (low fat spread, no preserve) fresh fruit and fruit juice. During the period 2006 - 2013, breakfast clubs have been established in 34 of the Vale's 48 primary, junior and infant schools and a further 4 schools are in the process of establishing a club.

4.             Evaluation of the service has shown a positive response from schools stating various benefits and improvements in pupil behaviour as a result of attending the breakfast club.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             All costs associated with setting up and operating the scheme have been met by WG via specific grant funding. Funding for free school breakfast clubs will transfer into the revenue settlement from April 2013 together with responsibility for establishing a club at any primary school at the request of the governing body.

6.             Coordination, auditing, monitoring and administration of the scheme are undertaken by Vale Catering staff with schools being responsible for appointment and management of staff. School breakfast club positions are typically part-time for one hour a day which has resulted in recruitment difficulties particularly in more rural areas of the Vale. Schools that are operating this scheme have sourced staff through school meals staff, lunch time supervisors, cleaning staff and Learning Support Assistants. 

7.             Schools which are not operating the scheme are increasingly coming under pressure from parents to establish a breakfast club. Some Headteachers are of the view that provision of a breakfast club has an influence on parental decisions about the school they opt to send their children to.

8.             Schools have identified that where breakfast clubs are in operation, as the arrival of children is staggered it eases pressure on travelling and parking. In some instances schools have also reported a positive impact on punctuality and attendance.

9.             Support is now concentrated on schools which have yet to set up a breakfast club.  The Client Officer/Co-ordinator contacts the remaining schools on a regular basis to engage them in the start up process.  Governing body meetings are attended to provide governors with an overall assessment of the benefits to pupils, parents and schools.  In addition, Headteachers of existing breakfast clubs have volunteered to talk to Headteachers who are interested in starting a breakfast club.  Headteachers are advised that all start up procedures apart from obtaining staff are dealt with by Vale Catering, this includes training, risk assessments, set of up food contracts, monitoring and auditing of the club. 

During 2013-14 the remaining 10 schools will receive further support and guidance on how to effectively manage the start up of their club.  It is the aim of the catering service that every primary pupil has the opportunity to attend a breakfast club setting.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.        All costs for setting up and operating this scheme are currently funded by WG grant. £621,000 will be transferred into the Vale of Glamorgan's revenue settlement from April 2013 to fund on-going and future costs associated with the breakfast club initiative.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.        The breakfast club initiative is reported to have a positive impact on traffic congestion as a result of the staggered arrival of pupils. Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.        There are no legal implications arising from this report.  This initiative is not an entitlement it is at the discretion of the school. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.        There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.        The establishment of breakfast clubs in all primary, junior and infant schools will promote equality of access to a nutritious breakfast and the associated benefits.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.        This initiative supports the health and wellbeing policy, will aid and support the corporate health and safety standards goal to achieve platinum standard, and supports school in attaining healthy school status.

Policy Framework and Budget

16.        This is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.        Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

www.learning.wales.gov.uk/breakfast/whats-new.htm.

breakfastinfo@wales.gsi.gov.uk

 

Contact Officer

Carole Tyley, Catering Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer