Teachers have been forced to pay for the the breakfast of more than 130 pupils out of their own pockets after parents send children to school “hungry and malnourished”.
Kind-hearted staff at Knowle DGE School in Bristol provide the pupils with the food every morning after pledging not to let them go “too hungry to learn”.
The children have been filing into the school’s dining room for the special ‘Breakfast Club’ for the past nine years, with a choice of cereals, toasts and fruit juice available.
They say if they do not eat the breakfasts provided they will have nothing to eat – with some pupils claiming they leave home feeling “sick” and “angry” with hunger.
Teachers at the school took on the weekly bill of around £280 when charity ‘Global Hearts for Children’ – which previously funded the meals – went into liquidation.
It costs as little as 43p each day, or just over £50-a-year, to provide a child with a good breakfast.
Joanna Greenwood, a learning facilitator at Knowle DGE (knowledge, where the DGE stands for discovery, guidance and enjoyment) admitted teachers felt it was “unfair” that they had to pay but would not let the children go hungry.
She said: “We feel it’s really important that a child has a good start to the day. Hunger and thirst is a very big trigger for negative behaviour.
“If the meals aren’t in place then they aren’t able to engage and focus and be able to learn.
“We have a very good network of staff in our learning centre and they’re willing to help out as much as they can.”
The school caters for pupils aged from five through 18 who suffer with moderate learning difficulties as well as emotional behavioural difficulties.
Global Hearts for Children provided the breakfast club meals at the school for nine years before going into liquidation in August.
Knowle DGE has now applied to another charity, Magic Breakfasts, for funding, joining their waiting list of more than 130 schools.
The charity currently provides breakfasts for 6,000 children across the country – giving bagels, cereals, Quaker porridge and fresh Tropicana juice.
It costs them 22p per breakfast per child, as companies donate many of the foods.
A recent survey revealed that 83 per cent of teachers believed their pupils were coming to school hungry.
Carmel McConnel, founder of the charity, said it gave money to schools where pupils “arrived hungry and malnourished”.
She added: “Our aim is to make sure no pupil starts the day too hungry to learn so we’d like to help that school.
“We’re planning to visit in this week and make sure that we can support them.”
Mark Cousins, also from the charity, visited the school yesterday (Tues) to discuss pupils’ needs with teachers.
He said: “The teachers are actually paying for these breakfasts out of their own pockets at the moment because it is so important to give the pupils a good breakfast.
“I’ve been speaking to some of the children there and they say that without the breakfast club they are too hungry to concentrate.
“Some were feeling a bit sick from hunger and said it affected them to the point where it was making them angry.
“Some of the stories are just heart-breaking.”
Headmaster of Knowle DGE Peter Evans was surprised that Global Hearts for Children stopped feeding his pupils breakfast.
He said: “It was a bit of a mystery to us because we have been involved with them for nearly ten years and it has been one of the more positive parts of the school day.
“It has worked really well but unfortunately their funding streams seem to ahve run dry and they have not been able to continue.”