Breakfast clubs 'lifeline' for working parents

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Many parents would struggle to hold down a job without the support of a school breakfast club, new research reveals.


Parents view breakfast clubs as a vital source of childcare

A survey by breakfast club provider Kellogg’s has found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of working parents believe that without access to a breakfast club they or their partner would need to give up work.

Parents were also aware that the cost of alternative childcare would be much higher, with almost one in five respondents with more than one child in breakfast club, claiming that it saved them around £50 a week.

The Parent’s Lifeline report looks at the role that breakfast clubs play in the lives of working families and how changes to society are affecting family breakfast times.

According to Kellogg’s, 38 per cent of children attend a breakfast club, with more than a quarter of parents of the belief that children’s learning benefits from the extra time in breakfast clubs.

Breakfast clubs also enable parents to start work earlier in some cases, the report says, for a ‘more productive working day’.

Leanne Gardner, a mother of two boys, said, ‘The breakfast club means that I can work from 8.30am until 4.30pm, allowing me 2.5 hours of quality time to spend in the evenings with the boys.

‘Without breakfast club, I wouldn’t be able to get to work until 9.30am, which would mean that I wouldn’t get home until 6pm, allowing me just 30-60 minutes with my sons. And I’d have to pay for after-school childcare on top.’

The report also highlights how eating breakfast together at home has become difficult for many families.

More than a third (37 per cent) of working parents surveyed said they rarely or never eat breakfast with their children during the week.

Just one in five (22 per cent) working parents manages to sit down and eat breakfast with their children every day.

Around half of parents recognise the importance of their child eating a good breakfast before heading off to school, but breakfast is rushed for a third of children (36 per cent) who spend just ten minutes eating breakfast.

The report also found that children spend time before school using iPads, watching TV or videos on YouTube, often because such distractions allow parents time to get ready for work.

Some parents also admitted to bribing their children with a treat to make sure they were able to leave the house on time in the morning. Twenty-one per cent gave children biscuits to take to school and 15 per cent gave them fizzy drinks.

The study, commissioned by Kellogg’s last June, involved online interviews with 2,003 full-time or part-time parents of primary school children with data collected by Atomic Research.

Kellogg’s started supporting breakfast clubs in schools 18 years ago with funding, cereal donations and training, and now has a network of more than 2,500 breakfast clubs across the UK.

Dave Lawlor, UK managing director for Kellogg’s, added, ‘Recent research has shown eating breakfast improves educational attainment.

‘However, it is not just children who benefit, breakfast clubs are also a vital resource to help working parents, saving millions in childcare costs and delivering benefits for employers across the UK.

'They are a lifeline, particularly for those parents on lower incomes.

'It isn’t just the financial benefits, interestingly the report showed parents who take advantage of breakfast clubs are, on the whole, more likely to feel happier and calmer, with 59 per cent saw a boost in wellbeing.’

Megan Jarvie, head of policy and public affairs at the Family and Childcare Trust, said, ‘Breakfast clubs are about much more than just cereal and toast in the morning – our research shows that breakfast clubs can help children do better in school and beyond, can help parents commit to their job’s work hours and can provide working families with the support they need to manage a work-life balance in modern Britain.

‘Too many families are struggling to access childcare that meets their needs, but extended schools services like breakfast clubs can help fill the gaps when there is not enough out of school childcare available. They help boost outcomes for children from all backgrounds and support parents to work.’

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