Education programmes are a common feature for a number of corporate responsibility programmes in the UK. A number of organisations are approaching the education of the young in a different way by funding Breakfast Clubs.
CSR and education
Now that the new school year is firmly underway, a worrying number of breakfast clubs in primary schools across the UK are having to shut their doors due to government budget cuts. This is all despite evidence of an increasing demand for the clubs from local authorities.
There are several organisations throughout the UK that include educational programmes as part of their wider corporate social responsibility programme. These programmes tend to offer a traditional approach, for example, reading in schools, skilled volunteering and internships – all of which are excellent initiatives that are proven to have a positive impact on the child. However how many programmes look at the relationship of food and performance of our young within the educational system? How many programmes fund breakfast clubs?
It is felt that the reduction of breakfast clubs could have a detrimental impact on the academic prospects of children in some of the most deprived areas of the UK. A survey produced by Kellogg’s last year of 727 teaching staff found that:
- Over 62% felt the closure of breakfast clubs would result in lower grades.
- Over 50% surveyed had concerns that behaviour in the classroom would worsen.
- 37% felt attendance would also be negatively affected.
- 51% believed that punctuality would also suffer.
These concerns have been supported by a survey carried out by the charity Magic Breakfast. Magic Breakfast provides breakfasts to 6,000 children in 200 primary schools in some of the most deprived areas of the country. They found that 88% of 140 primary schools see improved attendance and attainment when their pupils have breakfast with 91% seeing an improvement in child energy and concentration both crucial to a child’s performance in school.
How are some corporate organisations tackling the issue?
Greggs have developed the Greggs Breakfast Club model which is a volunteer-based scheme that utilises parent and grandparent volunteers from the school community. Greggs Breakfast Club runs over 150 clubs in primary schools across the UK, they provide the funding for food which includes toast, cereal and milk. In addition to this they provide funding for all equipment such as toasters, cutlery and crockery. What makes the Greggs model so successful is the use of volunteers ensuring that every penny donated by Greggs goes directly to feeding the children.
Another example of a business led initiative is the AEGON Breakfast Club that aims to give schoolchildren in Edinburgh a healthy start to their day. The breakfast club sits at the centre of AEGON’s corporate responsibility programme highlighting a commitment to making a positive contribution to the community and the environment that they work in. AEGON is one of the largest employers in Scotland and strong believe in delivering strong positive initiatives in their community. AEGON run a number of breakfast clubs in a number of primary schools throughout Edinburgh providing cereal, toast, yoghurt, fruit, juice and water.
AEGON uses the staff and volunteers to deliver these healthy breakfasts as well as emotional support for vulnerable children. AEGON believe the benefits of such clubs reach far further than just feeding the child. They believe the benefits include the teaching of social skills, manners and good citizenship, improved attendance and better educational performance.
Susan Wilcock, Head of Brand at AEGON said: “A nutritious start to the day is proven to improve attention and learning skills and we are delighted to be in a position to provide that through the Breakfast Club.”
An easy way for an organisation to create a CSR programme that really ‘stands out’, that really ‘makes a difference’, is to look around and see what issues are affecting their local communities.
Breakfast Clubs in the UK are a simple and relatively inexpensive way of combating the current cuts of breakfast clubs within primary schools in the UK. It is a clear way to positively impact the local community, address a real and current issue whilst supporting educational excellence in the young. Education is at the top of the agenda for all the political parties in the UK right now – and so it should be! Funding a local breakfast club could be your organisations way of ‘filling the gap’ that their budgets cannot…
Chantell Mills, Senior Company Relations Manager, CAF