A scheme to fund free breakfasts for Derby schoolchildren will be rolled out to more city schools after proving a success at four.
The Breakfast of Champions pilot, also known as the Free Schools' Breakfast Club Scheme, was rolled out at four schools in Derby last year in an attempt to improve children’s behaviour, attendance and overall educational attainment; recognising the importance of breakfast in order to start the day effectively.
The clubs were reportedly well-received and attended by a growing number of pupils.
Schools also said that attending breakfast clubs generally boosted pupils' morale before the day started.
Derwent Primary School, one of the four pilot schools, had 24 pupils attend the club on a daily basis.
It reported an overall improvement in attendance among those pupils and a reduction in late marks since the scheme began last September.
Staff also anecdotally noted improvements in focus and attention within lessons which lasted throughout the day.
Ann Foottit's son Daniel takes part in the club at Derwent Primary. She said:
"This is Dan's second week in the club. He's been really pleased with it and it's worked really well for us as a family.
"They get plenty to eat and he likes to go.
"It really helps because it means I can drop him off at 8am.
"I know he's safe and happy, much happier than he would be in a childcare facility - and I can get to work earlier than I'd be able to otherwise."
Tracey Taylor's daughter Katie is also part of the club. She said:
"Katie has been coming for about a year.
"It helps us as a family because I have an older daughter with special needs, and she needs to be on the bus for 9am, so I need to get her sorted.
"It means that Katie isn't late every day - she's always happy with what she has - it really helps the family routine in the morning."
And the scheme has been so popular at Firs Estate Primary School that it has expanded its pre-existing club, with the number of attendees rising from 10 to 70 pupils.
Other schools involved in the project were St John Fisher Primary School and Bemrose School.
The scheme is being organised by Derby City Council, Derby entrepreneur Kavita Oberoi, fellow Marketing Derby bondholders Aaron Thalmann and Mike and Dana Copestake, Derby County Football Community Trust and HIS Church.
Derby College has named the Breakfast Club as its charity of the year and is setting 4,000 students the task of raising £15 each, while Unite has donated £3,000 to support the roll-out.
A Marketing Derby Bondholders Breakfast is being run by Kavita Oberoi, to tell business people about the scheme's success and encourage others to get involved.
Local businesses will be introduced to the scheme and invited to think about how they can participate, either by providing staff time to help volunteer to run the clubs at individual schools or through fundraising.
Derby city councillor Sarah Russell said:
"I’m delighted that this scheme is to be expanded.
"The schools who participated in the pilot have shown that it can be a great way to support children and to improve attendance and attention through the day.
"We want to encourage all schools in the city to take part."
Julie Housden, head teacher of Derwent Primary School, said:
"Children who have attended the breakfast club come into school ready to learn and on time.
"This has impacted on their learning and progress in a positive way as they aren’t hungry and missing out on their education.
"They are making the progress that they are capable of, eating a healthy breakfast with friends and coming into school in a positive frame of mind.
"We have seen a big difference in the children who attend."
Kavita Oberoi, managing director of Oberoi Consulting, said:
"It’s fantastic to see how well received the breakfast initiative has been across the schools involved so far.
"Ensuring a child has breakfast in the morning is a simple task which could greatly improve their ability to learn.
"It’s clear to see the impact it’s having with many more pupils choosing to attend breakfast clubs.
"We hope to expand this further and get both schools and businesses involved so everyone can do their part to help out."
Mike Copestake, of Freeths Solicitors, said:
"We can think of few things worse than feeling hungry while trying to get to grips with mathematics.
"Any contribution we as members of the business community can make towards encouraging education and training for our youngsters has got to be a worthwhile investment in all of our futures."