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Alexander Residence: The Breakfast Club

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Breakfast Club

When I was a teacher I taught a boy, let's call him Jack.  He was small for his age, eager to please and a little bit cheeky.  He would hover round my desk rather than talk to his friends. It didn't take me long to realise his home life was tough and what he really needed was a mum.

Jack had never eaten breakfast, his uniform was filthy, he was always hungry.  A trainee teacher left her handbag in the classroom and came back to find her purse empty. Eventually, under whole class duress, Jack came forward claiming to have 'found' the missing money.

Jack's Head of Year knew the bigger picture and worked with outside agencies to try and improve things. I saw him - a grown man, capable of reducing kids to silence with one glare - with tears in his eyes over Jack, on more than one occasion.

When things were at their worst for Jack I was pregnant with Miss L.  I was full of maternal instinct and the urge to take him home, to let him have a bath and a decent meal was unbearable. Of course, there are things you are allowed and required to do as a teacher that do make a difference: praise, encouragement and the time of day go a long way.  The office staff also found him clean uniform to wear, and shoes when his started leaking.

One of the little things that made the biggest difference in Jack's life was Breakfast Club.  Back then Breakfast Clubs received funding, so Jack was quickly earmarked for the club as a means to get him a free breakfast.  Jack had little adult contact, he normally got himself ready for school. Having a good breakfast and contact with a supportive adult, before the whirlwind of a school day began, was invaluable.

So that's why breakfast clubs are a subject close to my heart. Shadow chancellor, Ed Balls described the clubs as one of the most crucial tools in the fight against child poverty. First funding was withdrawn, which has forced schools to charge. Now further budget cuts threaten many breakfast clubs completely. Education Secretary Michael Gove has stated that corporate organisations may need to ‘put their hands in their pockets’ to bridge the funding gap.

Kelloggs have stepped up to that challenge, but they need help. For every click, like or tweet via the Kellogg's Give a Child a Breakfast site you see the breakfast counter go up by one breakfast.  Very satisfying, even more satisfying than your own breakfast.  Do it now, for kids like Jack.
Kellogg’s Cornflakes will make a 3p donation for every pack sold to the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club Trust with the target of raising a minimum of £300,000 – which means one million breakfasts by the end of 2012.

This week I also went back to an inner city primary school I worked in as a consultant, to find out more about what breakfast clubs have to offer. I was really inspired by the stories of what they have made possible.  Look out for my post on Friday.

I am a member of the Netmums Parent Bloggers Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team from our database to review products and brands on their behalf. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I can 'opt in' to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity.

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At 12 October 2011 at 13:54 , Blogger Knackered Mother said...

Wow. Makes you think. Will definitely change from own brand to Kelloggs for my next packet of Cornflakes. ps - you're mentioned over at mine today..

At 12 October 2011 at 15:28 , Blogger Kate said...

What a wonderful post. But how awful to think that there are 'Jacks' in every school in the country.

At 12 October 2011 at 15:57 , Blogger Mel said...

This is awesome and I am going to click away! Every little thing in the life of a child who is struggling is a nudge. We can nudge them in the right direction or the wrong direction. Let's send 'em the right way!

At 12 October 2011 at 16:38 , Blogger Actually Mummy said...

I feel tearful for Jack now too. It is so easy as a parent to label the 'naughty' kids, but you've got to feel sorry for the way they are being treated at home. Thanks for reminding me.

At 12 October 2011 at 18:07 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Knsckered Mother - thanks for the mention, another really important issue over at yours - bullying. Small things make a difference.
Kste - There are many Jacks, in most schools :(
Mel - yay get clicking, so easy and so satisfying. Little things make a big difference.
Actually Mummy - Spot on, I get really angry about labels too and the way people overlook the impact of poverty on parents and children.

At 12 October 2011 at 20:19 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a breakfast club at our school - it was free, then £1.50 a session and now £2.50 per session - for an hour of childcare by 3 wonderful staff and an assortment of breakfast that would put some hotels to shame. They break even - unlike other schools in our area who charge at least double that rate, offer far less choice and make a profit.
What upsets me is the children standing outside the school gate at the same time - just there because they have no where else to go - and those having a corner shop 'red bull' equivalent and a dubious looking pasty that cost more than going to breakfast club.
We've managed to win a grant to kit out our after school club so the same kids get some care and a decent snack after school - even then their parents can't/won't come and pick them up. As the nights draw in, it's sometimes worth remembering that the kids loitering around the shops may not have somewhere to go.. :(

At 12 October 2011 at 21:52 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Thanks for sharing that, an amazing post in itself. I was amazed by the quality of food the school I visited had on offer too. It's amazing what can be done when people work and think like a community, rather than working for profit. The gains are huge as I found out visiting the school I went into this week. Children just need somewhere safe to play, and be. Good Luck with your club - check out the kellogg's site I think there are funding opps too?

At 13 October 2011 at 09:35 , Anonymous Honest Mum said...

This post has made me cry. Well done Kellogs for embarking on this much needed vital support system for children. My own mother and her siblings still talk of how much a breakfast club helped them as poor immigrants to the UK 40 years ago. Thank you for sharing.

At 13 October 2011 at 11:04 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Hug x That's a great story to share, I had no idea they had been around so long.

At 13 October 2011 at 17:39 , Anonymous northernmum said...

Cracking post Mrs x


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