Magic Breakfast

Magic Breakfast will deliver breakfast provision to 50 primary schools from September 2014. All pupils at these schools will be offered a universal free breakfast before the school day.

The project is being co-funded with the Department for Education. 

Why are we funding it?

The recently published School Food Plan, which has the support of the Secretary of State for Education, recommends that breakfast clubs should be set up in schools with the highest levels of deprivation and many schools do offer some breakfast provision. However, there is not yet a solid evidence base about the impact of breakfast clubs on attainment.

Several evaluations of their impact have been carried out in the United States, but the findings are ambiguous, partly due to the nature of the studies. A randomised trial carried out in the UK showed the positive impacts of breakfast provision on both concentration and attendance, but did not look at attainment. Recently, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) looked at the provision of additional nutrition through a universal free lunch offer. The results showed that pupils in the two local authorities receiving universal free school meals made between four and eight weeks’ more progress than similar pupils in comparison areas.

The project proposed here would therefore usefully add to the existing evidence base by combining a solid methodology with an attainment related outcome measure. 

How are we evaluating it?

A team from the IFS will conduct the independent evaluation. 100 schools will be recruited by Magic Breakfast in summer 2014 and will be randomly assigned to either receive breakfasts, or to be in a control group. Schools randomised to the control group will receive breakfast provision in September 2016.

Breakfasts will be provided to all children in Key Stages 1 and 2, however the evaluation will focus on Years 2 and 6, allowing the national collection of data at the end of the two Key Stages to act as the attainment outcome measures. The evaluation will also look at pupil behaviour and concentration collected via a survey of classroom teachers, attendance, and health outcomes. 

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report is due to be published in Autumn 2016.