Public Sector Focus

07.01.20

Food for thought - Stephen Garthwaite, Ysgol y Grango

Source: PSE Dec19/Jan 20

 

Stephen Garthwaite, headteacher, Ysgol y Grango

In November Ysgol y Grango, the secondary school in Rhosllanerchrugog in Wrexham of which I am headteacher, hosted the launch of the Stop School Hunger / Dysgu Nid Llwgu campaign.  We’re a member of the award-winning community organising charity TCC (Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru / Together Creating Communities) and the campaign we’re running is calling on the Welsh Government to add a daily 80p to the free school meals allowance.  This would allow the poorest children in secondary schools to have the opportunity to have both a nutritious breakfast and lunch.

This all came about because staff at our school realised some pupils who are claiming free school meals are forfeiting the nutritionally balanced lunch the allowance is designed to provide.  They’re doing this because there isn’t enough money at home for breakfast, so they’re spending some of their allowance in the morning and consequently don’t have enough left over for the main lunch.  

We raised the issue with TCC, an alliance of 35 member groups across north east Wales, comprising of schools, community and faith organisations.  A research group formed and surveyed just under 500 pupils (26% of whom claim free school meals) about their breakfast consumption.

It can be tempting to assume that adolescents don’t eat breakfast because they don’t get out of bed in time.  “I’m not a breakfast person” was indeed a common answer.  However, 18% of all the secondary school pupils who responded were unable, or unwilling, to explain why they were coming to school on an empty stomach.  Over 88% of pupils in receipt of free school meals, who buy breakfast at school and then don’t have enough left over for lunch do so for reasons beyond running late or not wanting to have breakfast.  One pupil echoed the responses of their peers and said, “I sometimes buy a piece of toast then can't afford enough for lunch as it goes over my daily allowance”.

The 106 teaching staff we surveyed illuminated what pupils had told us. Forty nine percent ‘sometimes’ provide food to pupils, with 13% doing so ‘often’; 69% referred children for help because they don’t have enough money for food and 75% believe a school breakfast would make a difference.  Teachers said, “their minds would be focused on something other than hunger” and “I have helped pupils with paying for dinner as they have run out of money”. 

We spent a good deal of time speaking with people who have in depth knowledge of the issues surrounding the school day and free school meals: headteachers; policy experts and civil servants working within Welsh Government.  Their expertise and insight helped inform the policy document we produced.

We arrived at the 80p figure after looking at the price of breakfast items on school menus across Wales.  Currently about 30,000 secondary age children in Wales are eligible for free school meals.  With free school meal take up standing at just under 70%, the approximate cost would be just over £3,000,000 per school year.  School canteens won’t need additional infrastructure for this.  Many already open before school starts, and all have a mid-morning break; the breakfast element could be time limited to the end of that break.

There’s a new curriculum in development for Wales and it aims to nurture ‘healthy, confident individuals’.  Introducing a breakfast element on top of the free school meals allowance would make achieving the vision of the new curriculum a possibility for the poorest pupils in Wales.   

I urge readers to visit the Stop School Hunger Campaign online, to sign the petition, and to share your story.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Ep 9. Greater Manchester's bright future, Eamonn & Andrew - GMCA

20/02/2020Ep 9. Greater Manchester's bright future, Eamonn & Andrew - GMCA

Our first podcast episode with two guests took us on the road to the TfGM offices where we spoke to two representatives from the Greater Manchest... more >
Northern Housing Consortium calls for government action

20/02/2020Northern Housing Consortium calls for government action

The Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) has called for government action to ‘level-up’ housing in the North as new study highlights dis... more >
UK’s biggest eco-friendly refuse fleet worth £3.4m to launch in Liverpool

20/02/2020UK’s biggest eco-friendly refuse fleet worth £3.4m to launch in Liverpool

The UK’s biggest eco-friendly fleet of refuse vehicles is being launched in Liverpool tomorrow (Feb 21) by Mayor Joe Anderson. The fle... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been th... more > more last word articles >

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the role of data. Data is all around us in the modern age. Unseen, the digital environment plays a role in near on every aspect of our lives. It influences, manages and mit... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues that community-led initiatives are a productive way of helping to solve... more >
Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

19/06/2019Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

Aberdeen City Council’s hydrogen spokesperson, councillor Philip Bell, highlights the Granite City’s determination to play a leading ... more >
A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >