Magic Breakfast is a scheme that delivers free, nutritious breakfasts to primary schools where over 35% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, with the aim of reducing the number of children in England who start the day too hungry to learn.
Magic Breakfast is funded by The Education Endowment Foundation, who commissioned our research & policy team to evaluate the scheme in partnership with the Institute of Fiscal Studies to weed out any issues that will affect its delivery.
Our evaluation used case studies to explore the process of introducing Magic Breakfast into a primary school from the perspectives of the Head Teacher, educators, staff who deliver the breakfast, Magic Breakfast staff, the children themselves and their parents.
The full report of our evaluation was published in November 2016.
What we found
The independent evaluation by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Children’s Bureau found that Year 2 children in schools with a breakfast club made two additional months’ progress in reading, writing and maths compared with a similar group whose schools were not given support to offer breakfast.
The evaluators reported that the pupils’ concentration and behaviour improved too. This suggests that breakfast clubs provide an opportunity to improve outcomes for all children, not just those who actually attend, by creating better classroom environments. The impact for Year 6 pupils was slightly smaller but still promising.
The results suggest that for pupils in relatively disadvantaged schools it is attending the breakfast club, not just eating breakfast, which leads to academic improvements. This could be due to the nutritional benefits of the breakfast itself, or the social or educational benefits of the breakfast club environment.
The 2013 School Food Plan recommended breakfast clubs should be set up in schools with the highest levels of deprivation. This evaluation suggests there might be benefits to an expansion of the policy using a free, universal and before-school model - and that this is something that schools should also consider in terms of their own spending priorities.